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Saffron PDO of L’Aquila
Saffron PDO of L’Aquila, with the scientific name of Crocus sativus, is a unique, exclusive product for its history, environment, cultivation and processing. The dust that is obtained, due to the drying of the stigmas, has been renowned and used for thousands of years its colour strength and intense aroma.
Thanks to the mountain pastures in the uncontaminated areas of the Sirente Velino Park, the production of top quality milk, with wholesome aromas and flavours, is at the basis of the local dairy production.
The honey production covers the whole territory of the Sirente Velino Regional Park, in particular East Marsica and the Subequana Valley. It is generally obtained from the typical local flowers and mixed mountain flowers.
The chickling vetch is a herbaceous plant belonging to the leguminous family; it is widespread in the mountain areas due to characteristics similar to other crops: it adapts to poor soils and difficult climatic conditions.
The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is originally from South America, the total of species worldwide amount to about 14,000, even if only a minimal part of these is used in cookery; they have characteristics and proprieties that vary from area to area.
Wild spinach (Chenopodium bonus henricus) grows spontaneously on the high, dry slopes, among grass and stones, close to farm houses. It is a delicious vegetable that is cooked in the same way as spinach.
St. Agatha’s loaves
This typical sacred bread comes from Castelvecchio Subequo and it is linked to the celebration of the festival of St. Agatha. On this occasion breast -shaped loaves are prepared and they are taken into the rural church dedicated to this saint, they are blessed and then soaked in the nearby spring.
Solina wheat bread
The particular characteristics of this type of bread include its generally dark colour, typical of Solina flour, its long-lasting fragrance and its pleasant bitter taste.
Micischia (Salted mutton)
This is usually produced with mutton (occasionally goat meat) that is neither too young nor too fatty. The most suitable part for the production of the salted mutton (micischia) is that taken form the shoulder downwards.
Even if it is an age-old cereal, in fact for centuries it has been the staple food of the Romans, only towards the end of the last century was it reintroduced to the Park areas, by using a seed originating from Cagnano Amiterno (Aquila).
Soft Solina wheat
Its presence in the Abruzzo territory dates back to 1500 and which was documented in some notarial acts of that time. Today, Solina is only cultivated by a few companies, some of which are located in the Sirente Velino Park.
iIn the Abruzzo area, there is the best truffle harvest worldwide and 40% of Italian truffles are produced in this region. In the Sirente Velino Park, the production of cultivated truffles extends also to the Subequana Valley and the Northern Marsica areas.
Lasagne della nonna (Grandmother’s home-made lasagne)
Prepare the home-made pasta with eggs and flour and the cut out the discs slightly smaller than the traditional “testo” pan to be used. Boil discs one at a time in boiling salted water, then drench them with cold water and then allow them to drain on teacloths. Separately, cook the minced meat with a sauté of celery and onion and then add some tomato. In the meanwhile, chop the scamorza cheese finely and grate plenty of cheese. In the well-greased “testo” pan, put the pasta discs one on top of the other, layering these with tomato sauce, cheese, scamorza cheese, minced meat until it is all used up. Put knobs of butter only on the last disc, which acts as a cover. Put the “testo” pan in the oven, or on the charcoal fire, where it remains until the top disc has a lovely golden brown colour; the dish is served in the same recipient in which it is cooked.
"Mouse tails" with potato sauce
Make firm dough with water and flour and knead it well. Pull off small pieces of dough (the size of a walnut), and roll them and crush them with your hands on the work surface, make long thin rolls about the same thickness as bucatini. Stretch the “mouse tails” onto a teacloth and allow them to dry. In a pan, (preferably earthenware), put oil, garlic, raw potatoes cut into slices, cover and allow to simmer over a low heat. Now add peeled, chopped tomatoes, basil, celery, parsley, salt and pepper. Stir this condiment often and, when it is dense and well-cooked, pour it onto the “tails” that have been cooked separately in boiled salted water. A variation of this dish called surgjjjì is served in Rovere, a town situated at the foot of the Rocche Plateau. The dough is prepared in the same way but the sauce is different.
In fact, in Rovere, this "surgilli" (little mice) are seasoned with garlic, oil, sautéed chilli pepper and a sprinkling of nuts finely ground in the mortar; the nuts replace the cheese.
Sagne and beans
Soak the beans for about 12 hours, leave them to simmer on a low light adding salt. Mix flour with water and salt and let the dough rest covered for 15 minutes.
Sauté the onion, celery and carrot and then add the diced ham. As soon as this has been heated, add the peeled tomatoes and leave to cook, add the parsley and basil last. Once cooked, pour the beans into the sauce and leave for a few minutes to acquire flavour.
Knead the dough and shape it into a circular loaf then begin to roll it out with a rolling pin until it becomes a about 3 mm thick; cut into small rectangles (sagne) of the desired size. Boil the pasta and once cooked, pour it into the serving dish and add the bean sauce. If you prefer, you can also spice the dish up by adding a little fresh chilli pepper.
Chickling vetch and potato soup
Leave the chickling vetch to soak in warm water for about 48 ore, changing the water every 12 hours. Put them in cold water adding garlic, rosemary, celery, 1 spoonful of oil and bring to the boil.
After simmering for approx. 2 and ½ hours, add the salt, diced tomatoes and chopped potatoes. Leave to cook for another hour or more. When the soup is cooked, serve it on slices with bread and season it with crude oil and ground pepper.
Egg and lemon stew
Cut the lamb meat in fairly small pieces, wash it and put it in an earthenware pot with a lot of oil. Season with salt, pepper, a little garlic and pan fry over a moderate heat, shaking the pan occasionally so that the meat cooks evenly without falling to pieces. Just before serving, beat the eggs with plenty of lemon juice. Put the pan back on the stove on a high heat, pour in the egg, allow it to thicken, but do not mix and then serve hot. This recipe, in some countries, is called "agnello in bianchetto" (white lamb stew); in other places it is called "a casce e ova" (cheese and egg). But instead of lemon, in the beaten eggs, pour plenty of grated spicy pecorino cheese. Even if the appearance of the dish does not change, however, the flavour changes thanks to the presence of the pecorino cheese.
In Santa Maria del Ponte, a hamlet of Tione degli Abruzzi, the second Sunday after Easter, there is the celebration in honour of Our Lady of Sorrows or "of the chicory." The day of the celebration, it is traditional to have “chicory” on every table from the most modest to the richest that is chicory in broth because, as it is bitter, it symbolises all the bitterness, the suffering of the Madonna dressed in mourning.
For the preparation of this dish, the chicory must be small, in tufts, which grows spontaneously in the fields in the spring. The plants that tend to crumple, should be thoroughly cleaned, washed, boiled and put in cold water to remove excess bitterness. Meanwhile, prepare the chicken meat broth, onion, celery, parsley and carrots and, separately, prepare the meat ragu sauce with tomato. Subsequently, in a large pan brown the bacon pieces and the chopped sausage with oil. Drain the chicory and squeeze it well with your hands, chop it, season it with salt and leave it to acquire flavour in the sautéed vegetables. Add the meat ragu to the chicory and, if necessary, add a ladle of broth. Just before serving, beat the eggs, add the grated pecorino cheese, a few tablespoons of cold water and pour the mixture on the chicory. Finally add the hot broth and serve.
"Nocci atterrati" (Glazed almonds)
Peel , dry and slightly toast the almonds. In a salad bowl beat well only the egg whites, add the powdered sugar to form a semi-dense mixture. Pour the almonds into the mixture and mix well, but gently.
When all the almonds are coated with a thin layer of sugar, put a thin layer of them on a large plates and allow them to dry for 24 hours in the open air. At this point, remove the almonds that possibly had become stuck together; put them in tin biscuit boxes, where they can be kept for a long time. You can prepare “nocci atterrati” on any festive occasion that are traditionally served with “pizzelle” and “coperchiole”.
"Pizzelle, nevole, ferratelle"
Sift the flour in the "setacciola" (small silk sieve) three times to get the finest flour, mix it with eggs, oil and a touch of anise liqueur. The rule is: 1 egg, 1 tablespoon of sugar, one of oil, a touch of anise liqueur and enough finely sifted flour to make rather soft dough. Knead the dough thoroughly, and form of rolls, the thickness of your little finger. With the rolls make “figures of eight” that are aligned in the floured "capestiere" (rustic rectangular tray with raised edges).
Prepare a good dry wood fire. Put a large piece of wood obliquely on the andirons, on which the iron that must heat long on both faces has to rest. Prepare the pork rind that you will pass, from time to time, on the inner faces of the red-hot iron so that the dough does not stick. Then start the cooking procedure. Open the pre-heated iron by resting one of the handles on the hearthstone, lay a figure of eight of dough, carefully close the iron to avoid dropping the dough and put it back on the fire on which you will leave for the necessary time it takes to recite a "Hail Mary". Then flip the iron and cook it on the other side. Open the iron by placing one of the handles on the ground and, if the wafer has a beautiful golden colour, remove it from the iron and start the procedure again until the dough is finished. It is a long and tiring job because the iron is heavy and the flame is hot and only with practice can you guess the right point of cooking crispy and tasty “pizzelle”.
Every family has its scissor-shaped wrought iron "pizzelle iron", with imaginative designs according to the inspiration of the craftsman who forged it and so a monogram or a coat of arms is impressed on the inside of the iron, in the centre. And who does not have the "iron", borrows the tool and this is passed from house to house at every party or at weddings and christenings.
Croccante (Almond Brittle)
In Forme, a hamlet of Massa d'Albe, the harvesting of almonds was carried out by all the families; the nut was used mainly to make desserts , one of which is Almond Brittle. It is made with almonds, sugar and honey, an important product so as to achieve its wholesome taste, but also for its symbolic value: it is an auspice of prosperity and abundance. In recent times, the Almond Brittle from Forme has had a significant revaluation, it always fills our tables at ceremonies and festivals and so the festival of the same name has been established and which, over time, has become one of the most popular throughout the Abruzzo territory and elsewhere.