“Tuscany on a Gondola”: Pici in Salsa

Pici in Salsa

When the fridge is empty…

Facing an occasional “echoing-mode” fridge crisis can really set free all the creative energy we are gifted with… Mayo jar: scraped to the limits. Milk: just enough for staining the next morning coffee. Three anchovies swimming in their own oil. Two small sweet onions into the veggies tray. Could be worse: could be “life-on-Mars-mode”!
As it always happers, the best solutions come from strict limitations: “Bigoli in Salsa”!

The Salsa sauce

The Salsa

The Salsa

It’s a recipe from Venice. The sauce – the “salsa” is made with white sweet onions – which are slowly cooked with extra-virgin olive oil on a very low heat till almost turned into a golden mush – and anchovies, which are added at the end and dissolved completely.The “salsa” was on in a couple of minutes (season with salt and a generous pinch of black pepper). And since those three anchovies wouldn’t have been enough, at the end I added a nice spoonful of my “Colatura di Alici di Cetara”: anchovies extract… which would deserve a post on its own!

Colatura di alici di Cetara

Colatura di alici di Cetara

“Bigoli” are a Venetian long and thick noodles. The dough was originally made with buckwheat flour, but now it’s much simpler: semola (semolina flour), wheat flour mixed with eggs. The dough is then pressed through the “bigolaro”, a hand-operated extruding machine with a screw system attached to a saddle ( … seriously!).
Obviously, I do not own a bigolaro machine! And I wouldn’t know where to keep it…
Also, the fancy bucatini are off-limits: I save them for my recipes on Aglio Vestito (yes, only the best for my readers!).
The solution: I will make “Pici”!

How to make “Pici”

Making Pici

Making Pici

“Pici” are a Tuscan kind of fresh pasta, they have originated in Siena, the city of the Palio. They are 4 to 5mm thick and they are extremely long. The longer, the better. They are easy to make: semola flour and water. Some people mix semola and wheat flour too and even eggs, but this is not strictly traditional.
Knead the dough, rest it for about half an hour, roll it out roughly. Then, cut it in thick long slices: about 20 by 4 millimeters. Place one strip on the kneading board, overlap one end to create a fold, then start rubbing it quickly with the palm of one hand while pressing it slightly and holding the rest of the strip with the other hand. Try to roll the whole strip into a long thick noodle. This is how Pici are made.

Binding the pasta

If you read my recipes, you already know this step: when “Pici” come to the surface, give them about 3 or 4 minutes to cook properly through, then drain them directly into the frying pan with the sauce, add some cooking liquor and let it reduce on a quite high heat.

Done! Tuscany on a Gondola!

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