Crostini  Neri, Maccheroncini di Campofilone, Arrosto Misto, and Pangiallo, the Christmas feast is served

During the holidays, the famous conviviality of Italian dinner tables is even more evident. Extended families gather to enjoy each other’s company and to savor delicious meals. Each family usually has its own traditional menu, which is always the same year after year. How this menu is composed is greatly influenced by the area where the family lives. In our previous post we saw what a traditional Christmas menu could look like in the north; today we move to Central Italy to discover the delicacies that will please the taste buds of millions of Italians.

Crostini Neri (Tuscany) – The adjective ‘black’ for these small slices of bread is due to the dark color of the preparation spread onto them. Halfway between a pate and ragu, this spread presented on toasted Tuscan bread is the usual kick-off of any feast in the region. As often happens with traditional recipes there are many variations in different areas and families. However, the mainstay is always the same: delicate chicken livers scrumptiously complemented by the anchovy paste, capers. Generally, the variations differ for the types of herbs and seasoning included in the compost.

Maccheroncini di Campofilone (Marche) – Normally the word ‘maccheroni‘, in Italian, indicates pasta tubes, but these are very fine thin pasta strands. The original recipe for this traditional egg pasta is at least 600 years old. And it provides for 10 eggs for each kilo of durum wheat semolina flour. The dough is rolled out into really thin sheets that are then rolled up and cut into ultra-fine ribbons. In this way, peasants and farmers could make dry egg pasta in the summer and keep it for months. Traditionally served with a meat sauce sprinkled with pecorino cheese, the Maccheroncini are so fine it melts in the mouth. In 2013, Maccheroncini di Campofilone’ became the first egg pasta to be listed as a PGI product in Italy. 

Arrosto Misto (Umbria) – The ‘Mixed roast‘ is as simple as delicious. What is important in this recipe is the variety of meat cuts and the marinade. Different families use chicken, sausages, pork, lamb, turkey, and veal in different proportions. And marinade them with different seasonings. It is traditionally cooked with potatoes that absorb the flavor of the meat. One reason why it is so popular is that anyone can find their favorite cut.

Pangiallo (Lazio) –  One of the many sweet breads that characterize the Christmas table throughout Italy. This delicious variation from Lazio is enriched with ricotta. At the time of the Roman Empire, it was prepared on the day of the winter solstice as a good omen for the return of long sunny days. It owes its name – literally ‘yellow bread’ – from the color of the icing that covers it, which is bright yellow because it contains threads of saffron. Under the yellow icing, dried fruit, honey, and candied citron create a symphony of flavors with the smoothness of ricotta.

(Ilona Catani Scarlett)

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