Yes, you have read well: “Priest-chokers”! This is what “Strozzapreti” means. But do not worry: no casualty ever reported suggest they might literally work that way on any member of the clergy. The eccentricity of the name, though, always raises a giggle and the same spontaneous question: where does this name come from?
Actually there is no certainty about it. The darkest of all hypothesis, link it back to the anticlerical rebellions in the territories of the Pontifical States which have been under the direct rule of the Pope from the 6th century to 1870. Romagna – the homeland of this pasta – was part of their eastern regions. Apparently, rebels used to “take care” of the undesired ministers with a twisted leather rope, similar to a harmless shoestring.
Less ferocious tales from earlier times, instead, talk about the common habit of presenting the priest who came for blessing your home, or simply for a visit, with basic goods like wine, bread or eggs. In times when having just a couple of chicken was considered a blessing, giving up the only daily egg was certainly not the easiest thing to do. It meant the pasta wouldn’t have been as nourishing as if it had an egg in it. So, I guess the name was just a “spontaneous wish”, muttered both by the frustrated kneading housewives and their hungry husbands.
The proportions of the two different flours indicated can vary: this pasta can be made either only with durum wheat semola flour or only with soft wheat weak flour.The percentage of water the mixture will be able to a absorb will consequently vary. I will soon write a post about flours and their properties.
Meanwhile, try to make them and you will be surprised of how easy that is. You can find the recipe here.
Do not worry if you are not expert at rolling out dough: you don’t need very thin sheets. If your rolling pin is small, then quickly shape the dough into a rough cylinder and cut slice it in smaller piece, one at a time. Roll out the single slice into a 2mm high sheet (even 3 is perfectly fine), the shape them up. In the “HOW TO” section you can see the step by step slide-show.
If you make them hours in advance, then you will need to blanch them and let them dry on a baking tray. And if you made too many of them, they can successfully be frozen after they have been blanched: they will be handy for your next italian cooking session!