Menu December 2019

Menu December 2019

First Course: Lasagne Pesto e Pomarola

(=Lasagna with Pesto and Pomarola)

Recommended wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano D.O.C.G.

Lasagne Pesto e Pomarola Ingredients for 6-8 people: For the pasta: 3 eggs 300 g plain flour 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil salt *** For the sauce: 50 g basil 100 g pine nuts 40 g Parmigiano Reggiano, in pieces (for the pesto) 40 g pecorino cheese, in pieces (for the pesto) 1 clove of garlic 10 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (plus 3 tbsp to grease the pan) salt or: 1½ jars (containing 180g each) of Pesto 6 jars (280 g each) of Pomarola 250 g coarsely grated cheese, half Parmigiano and half pecorino

To prepare the sheet of pasta: put the flour on a pastry board or your kitchen work surface, heap it up a create a “well” in the centre, break the 3 eggs into it, add a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Start mixing slowly with a fork, and then use your hands until the dough forms a smooth, compact ball. Roll out the dough into a thin sheet (roughly 2mm thick), use a few handfuls of flour to make sure that it doesn't stick to the rolling pin. If you don’t have much room, divide the dough in half and roll each piece out separately. Leave the pasta to dry on a lightly floured cloth. Then cut it into rectangles of about 12 x 24 cm (naturally this is only an approximate size) and lay them on a chopping board, even overlapping if you wish: sprinkle a little flour between them so they don’t stick together. Put a large saucepan full of water on the stove: when it comes to the boil, add a good pinch of coarse salt and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Fill a large bowl, or a casserole dish, with cold water and place it as close as possible to the stove. Take one piece of lasagna at a time and put it into the boiling water vertically: drop it in slowly and then continue with the others, but without overfilling the saucepan (if necessary cook them in two or three batches). They will cook very quickly; after a minute or two use a perforated spoon to remove them from the pan. Put them straight into the cold water in the bowl and spread them out with your hands, then lay them out one beside the other on a cotton cloth.

Now prepare the pesto: take the basil leaves (without their stalks), wash them and lay them to dry on kitchen paper, or a cotton tea towel. When dry, put them in a food processor with the pine nuts, both types of cheese, the garlic, half the olive oil and some salt (1). Blend everything thoroughly and pour the resulting sauce into a large bowl. Add the remaining olive oil, a little at a time, stirring very slowly to amalgamate everything well. Add the Pomarola and stir again in order to obtain a smooth sauce. Grease the bottom of a baking pan and distribute a thin layer of the sauce in it, followed by a first layer of lasagna sheets, sprinkle with a handful of pecorino and Parmigiano, add an abundant layer of sauce, more cheese and then start again with lasagna sheets. Continue until you’ve finished all the ingredients; the important thing is to finish with the sauce and a sprinkling of pecorino and Parmigiano (in a 40 x 40 cm pan, we manage to do 3 complete layers of pasta). Bake in a preheated oven, at 200 °C, for 15-20 minutes; the cooking time is fairly short, because this lasagna doesn’t have béchamel sauce and otherwise it could dry out too much.

(1) Nowadays we normally rely on food processors or blenders to make pesto, but the real version is made using a marble or wood mortar and pestle. Not many cooks still try their hand at doing it this way, but here at the Fattoria Stefania does! She starts by “pestare” (= crushing) the basil and garlic, pulverising and grinding until they are reduced to a pulp. Then she adds the pine nuts and a pinch of salt and continues crushing, gradually pouring in the olive oil and amalgamating it with the rest of the mixture. To finish off the sauce she adds the cheese, half pecorino and half Parmigiano, already grated to makes things easier. And there you have it.... a real Pesto with a capital P!

First Course: Pici al sugo antico

(= Pici with “Ancient” Sauce)

Recommended wine: Casa Conforto Chianti Superiore D.O.C.G.

Pici al sugo antico Ingredients for 4 people: 400 g Pici 100 g dried porcini mushrooms 250 g minced beef 250 g chicken livers 2 carrots 3 stalks of celery 1 onion 1 sprig of rosemary 1 glass red wine 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil ½ chilli pepper salt and pepper

Put the dried mushrooms to soak in a bowl with warm water. In the meanwhile clean the carrot, celery and onion, chop them finely and sauté in a deep pan with the olive oil. Stir your “soffritto” (the Italian name for these finely chopped mixed vegetables) frequently and, as soon as it begins to brown, add the sprig of rosemary, broken in two. Tip the minced beef into the pan, mix it with the “soffritto” and cook over a low heat for at least half an hour, stirring from time to time so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Now add the chicken livers (well cleaned and coarsely chopped), season with salt and pepper and stir. Continue cooking (stirring from time to time) for roughly another quarter of an hour. Now strain the water off the mushrooms, dry them, cut them into small pieces and tip them into the pan. Add the chilli pepper, broken up coarsely by hand, stir and then, after about 10 minutes, pour in the red wine. Leave to simmer for another 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Cook the Pici in plenty of boiling, salted water; strain them when “al dente” and tip them into a large bowl in which you have already put half of the sauce, still nice and hot. Pour the other half on top of the pasta, mix together thoroughly and... everybody to the table!

If you like, you can accompany this dish with grated Parmigiano or pecorino cheese.