The Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society
of the Washington, D.C. Area
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TRADITIONAL CUISINE OF ABRUZZO AND MOLISE
The traditional cuisine of these regions has been shaped by the natural settings of mountains and sea. A specialty of this mountainous region -the home of shepherds- is naturally lamb, prepared in a variety of ways- roasted, fried or cooked alla cacciatora (the hunter's way) with red peppers. Pecorino made from sheep's milk is the most common cheese.
And the best durum wheat pasta in Italy comes from the Campobasso region, once known as the "Granary of the Kingdom of Naples". Fish is also prominent in the traditional cuisine, as some of the best fishermen of Italy live along the region's Adriatic Coast. Appropriately, St Francis Caracciolo - recently proclaimed the Saint protector of Cooks - is from
Villa Santa Maria (Chieti), a town that since the 1500's continues to produce world-renowed Chefs. And the
Panarda, an all-day gigantic meal the origins of which go back to pagan times, is still an occasion of celebration in Abruzzo.
Go to list of recipes
But before looking at the various recipes we have collected so far, read on to learn about the main culinary attributes of the two regions.
Note: In my description below, I have tried to summarize the wealth of information on the subject present on the Internet, often having to translate from the original Italian. For those that want more in-depth information, and more recipes, I have prepared below a list of internet sites and a list of books that can be consulted.
Maccheroni alla chitarra
The most famous dish of Abruzzo and also of Molise is maccheroni alla chitarra, made with the help of an implement known as chitarra (guitar). This piece of equipment is made up of a wooden frame strung with parallel steel wires; a rolling pin pushes the sheet of pasta dough--made of durum wheat and eggs-- through the strings which cut the dough in the characteristic shape of spaghetti. This pasta dish is served with a tomato sauce variously flavored with peppers, pork, goose, or lamb meats, and complemented by regional side dishes such as sagne e fagioli , a bean and noodle soup flavored with a thin sauce made from fresh tomatoes, garlic, oil, and hot peperoncino (chili peppers).
Among the local dishes are the gnocchi carrati from L'Aquila, flavored with bacon, eggs, and pecorino cheese. From Teramano, a town famous for its cuisine, come scrippelle, crepes made from a rustic French recipe, served mbusse (in a kind of soup) or used to form a sumptuous souffle dish, served with a little ragu', and stuffed with chicken liver, meat-balls, hard-boiled eggs and fresh ewe's-milk cheese. The crown of the table is ravioli stuffed with sugar and cinnamon, served with a thick pork ragu'; the pastuccia a stew of polenta with sausage, egg and grated ewe's-milk cheese; and pappicci, thin noodles in a tomato sauce.
Main courses consist principally of meat (inland) or fish (on the coast). Roast lamb a tasty rustic dish, has sapid variations such as arrosticini, thin wooden skewers with pieces of lamb cooked over an open fire; pecora al cotturo, lamb stuffed with a rich variety of mountain herbs cooked in a shepherd's copper pot; lamb cooked whole in the bread oven on important occasions; and finally Agnello cacio e oro, a tasty rustic fricasse.
brodetto alla vastese
The variety of fish from the Adriatic has resulted in three basic brodetti (broths) variations, respectively from Giulianova, Pescara, and Vasto. The fish is cooked in an earthenware cookery pot with fresh tomatoes, various spices, and peperoncino.
Rustic pizzas are also very common: some of these are the Easter Pizza (a rustic cake with cheese and pepper from the Teramano area); the fiadoni from Chieti, dough of eggs and cheese well risen, cooked in the oven in a thin casing of pastry; rustic tart pastry filled with everything imaginable: eggs, fresh cheeses, ricotta, vegetables, and all sorts of flavorings and spices.
Also from Teramano are the spreadable sausages flavored with nutmeg, liver sausages tasting of garlic and spices. The ventricina from the Vasto area is made with large pieces of fat and lean pork, pressed and seasoned with powdered sweet peppers and fennel and all encased in the dehydrated stomach of the pig itself. Atri and Riviondoli are famous for cheeses and mozzarella - fresh or seasoned - made from ewe's milk, although a great number of lesser known varieties of these cheeses can be found all over Abruzzo and Molise.
|Last but not least, the sweets. The sweets of Abruzzo are famous throughout the world: amongst the most famous are: the confetti (sugared almonds) from Sulmona; the Torrone Nurzia, soft chocolate nougat from L'Aquila; the Parrozzo from Pescara, immortalized by the poet D'Annunzio, made from a mixture of crushed almonds. The traditional sweets include: ferratelle, aniseed wafers cooked in a hot plier with large stepped teeth; the cicerchiata, balls of fried sweet dough joined into ring shapes by cooked honey; the croccante a type of nougat made with almonds and caramelled sugar, flavored with lemon; the mostaccioli essentially biscuits sweetened with cooked must; the pepatelli from Teramano, cookies of fine bran, with almonds and honey, but quite spicy; from Guardiagrele come the heavy macaroons and the sise delle manache, triangular pieces of sponge cake with confectioner's cream; and from Lanciano the bocconotti with stuffings of almonds and chocolate.
||Sweets of Abruzzo
The cuisine is dominated by flavors linked to the many aromatic herbs found there. Tasty and spicy salamis, top quality cheeses, elaborate dishes using goat and lamb meats, homemade pasta dishes with rich sauces, all somewhat spicy and flavorsome: such are the main characteristics of the Molise cuisine.
The vegetables which grow in abundance in this land, are cooked in many different ways, but always with great care.
The typical antipasti consist of
Bruschetta,toasted bread with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic;
Capocolli,sausage made from the head and tail of a pig;
Prosciutto affumicato, smoked ham from Rionero Sannitico;
Salsiccie al finocchio, sausage with fennel;
Soppressata, a type of salame. The best sausages and salamis may be found the Upper Molise area. Castel del Giudice, Capracotta and Agnone are known to produce the best suppressata, and excellent smoked prosciutto. At Montenero di Bisaccia, a ventricina salami is produced which is similar to the one from Abruzzo and certainly not less spicy. Sessano produces a special pork liver sausage called frascateglie in the local dialect, similar to the mazzafegati and the fegatazzi of the bordering regions. These sausages are frequently eaten with polenta. The mulette, a kind of capocollo or coppa (types of ham) made with peperoncino rather than pepper. Lastly, the sanguinaccio sausage, made with solidified pigs’ blood cut into small pieces and cooked in salted water then mixed with white breadcrumbs, orange peel, sultanas, parsley, peperoncino and garlic.
Some primi piatti or main dishes are:
Brodosini made of Tagliatelle (noodles) in broth with pork cheek and fat;
Calcioni di ricotta, a specialty of Campobasso, made of fried pasta stuffed with ricotta, provolone, prosciutto, and parsley, and usually served with fried artichokes, cauliflower, brains, sweetbreads, potato croquettes, and scamorza cheese;
Cavatiegl e Patane, or Gnocchi (dumplings) served in a meat sauce of rabbit and pork. Of course main dishes include a variety of Pasta, such as Cavatelli, Lasagna, or maccheroni served with a meat sauce (ragu') of lamb or goat;
Pasta e fagioli, Pasta-and-white-bean soup cooked with pig's feet and pork rinds;
Polenta d'iragn, a polenta-like dish actually made of wheat and potatoes, sauced with raw tomatoes and pecorino;
Risotto alla marinara,rice with seafood;
Spaghetti with diavolillo, a strong chili pepper sauce;
Zuppa di cardi, a soup of cardoons, tomatoes, onions, pancetta, olive oil; and
Zuppa di ortiche, a soup of nettle stems, tomatoes, onions, pancetta, olive oil.
Some common Secondi Piatti or meat and vegetable dishes are
Lamb, the most popular meat, served grilled, roasted, or stewed. Many organ meats of lamb, especially tripe, are popular;Coniglio alla molisana, grilled rabbit pieces skewered with sausage and herbs;Mazzarelle, tightly wrapped rolls made with lung and tripe of lamb; Ragu' d' agnello,braised lamb with sweet peppers, a specialty of Isernia;
Torcinelli, rolled strips of lamb tripe, sweetbreads, and liver; and
Pamparella or pork pancetta dried with peperoncino, soaked in wine and cut into small pieces. Pamparella is used to flavor sauces, in particular the sauce for dressing the tacconi, a rustic pasta made with flour and water.
Tasty vegetable dishes are Carciofi ripieni, artichokes stuffed with anchovies and capers;
Peeled sweet peppers stuffed with breadcrumbs, anchovies, parsley, basil and peperoncino, sautéed in a frying pan and cooked with chopped tomatoes;
Cipollacci con pecorino, fried strong onions and pecorino cheese; and
Frittata con basilico e cipolle, omelette with basil and onions.
Fish dishes include red mullet soup, and spaghetti with cuttlefish. Trout from the Biferno river is notable for its flavor, and is cooked with a simple but tasty sauce of aromatic herbs; and finally Zuppa di pesce, a fish stew, a specialty of Termoli.
The cheeses produced in Molise are not very different from those produced in Abruzzo:
The more common ones are Burrino and Manteca, soft, delicious, buttery cow's-milk cheeses;
Pecorino, sheep's-milk cheese, served young and soft or aged and hard;
Scamorza, bland cow's-milk cheese, often served grilled;
and Caciocavallo, sheep's-milk cheese.
Sweets and desserts have a most ancient tradition here and are linked to the history of the territory and to religious and family festivities. Most common are the
Calciumi (also called Caucioni or cauciuni), sweet ravioli filled with chestnuts, almonds, chocolate, vanilla, cooked wine musts, and cinnamon and then fried;
Ciambelline, ring-shaped cakes made in the countryside. They may be all'olio (with olive oil) or al vino rosso (with red wine);
Ferratelle all'anice, anise cakes made in metal molds and stamped with special patterns;
Ricotta pizza, a cake pan filled with a blend of ricotta cheese, sugar, flour, butter, maraschino liqueur, and chocolate chips.
Recipes of Abruzzo and Molise
In the list below I include only recipes used in our family traditional cooking, and/or those that we have tried and are willing to share with others, any other recipe may be readily available through the Internet. We welcome any recipes that meet these requirements. Send your recipe to Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society at email@example.com , or use our GuestBook.
For those that are in search of specific recipes not listed below, we have compiled a
list of internet sites a search of which would yield more recipes of the Abruzzo and Molise regions than one could ever use in a lifetime.
Internet Resources on Abruzzo and Molise Cuisine
You can use various search engines such as Yahoo ,
Google or Altavista to search the Internet for information on the Abruzzo and Molise cuisine. The information/disinformation/duplication found may be overwhelming, and to select only the essential could be very time consuming. Therefore I have listed below my results of a limited search on the subject, posting only what appeared to be the more interesting sites.
Books on Abruzzo and Molise cuisine
Anna Teresa Callen, Food and Memories of Abruzzo - John Wiley & Sons, 1998.
Claudia Roden, Claudia Roden's The food of Italy: region by region First Steerfort Edition, 2003.
Fred Plotkin, Italy for the Gourmet Traveler - Little Brown Co., 1996.
C. Natali, Abruzzi e Molise in bocca - SAGDOS Brugherio - Milano 1986.
A.M. Lombardo, R. Mastropaolo, La cucina molisana - vol. I - Arti Grafiche La Regione - Editrice Ripalimosani 1986.
Cartoguide de Agostini - Abruzzo, Nature-History-Art-Folklore-Gastronomy - Ist. Geografico De Agostini, 1992.
Ada Boni, Italian Regional Cooking - Arnoldo Mondadori Editor, 1969.
Wilma Reiva LaSasso, The All-Italian Cookbook- The MacMillan Company, 1958.
A. Di Lello, A. Stanziani, La cucina dei grandi cuochi di Villa Santa Maria - Solfanelli Editore - Chieti, 1984.
Antonio Stanziani, La cucina tradizionale abruzzese - Carsa, Pescara, 1998.
Antonio Stanziani, La Panarda di Villa Santa Maria - Edizioni Qualevita
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