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Alessi cuisine



Pappardelle sulla pecora degli antichi pastori erranti negli smannori campigiani

  • A) The meat:
    1 kg of sheep shoulder, already boned, removed of the grease and cut in pieces
    100 grams of minced lean veal
    100 grams of minced lean pork meat
    2 pork sausages
  • B) A chopped mixture composed by:
    1 big red onion
    1 carrot
    1 celery rib
    a medium leek
    a small bunch of parsley
    3 garlic cloves
    the skin (only the yellow part) of a lemon
  • C) A mixture composed by:
    a pinch of dried basil
    the small leaves of a bunch of "pepolino" (thyme)
    2 branches of rosemary
    a big lock of sage
    a bunch of sweet marjoram
    5-6 branches of "nipitella"
    a pinch of dried oreganum
    1/2 litre of very hot broth made with one meat stock cube and one boletus stock cube
  • 400 grams of "pappardelle"
  • 1/2 kg of peeled tomatoes (or tomato purée)
  • 1 spoon of tomato purée
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 10 spoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Take a saucepan with a thick bottom (it is better if it is made of terracotta) and put the olive oil and the peeled sausages. Put over a medium heat, in order to melt the grease of the sausages and flavour the oil, and turn continuously. Then add the chopped vegetables, increase the heat, turn and mix very well all this stuff and start the browning over a medium-brisky heat. It is important that the browning is made with a slow and continuous progression, and not in a violent manner. Then first stage: withering of vegetables (covered saucepan) and successively evaporation (opened saucepan) of their vegetation humour. Medium heat, turn uniformly with large spiral of the arm: it is important not to have any crusts, the smell is very fresh and intense, the colours are various.
Second stage: extreme browning in order to have a dark hazel colour, brisky heat, saucepan without lid, scraping off the bottom of the pan in order to remove the incrustations, because they should not burn; by this scraping you also avoid that the same part of the stuff will be in contact, for a long time, with the bottom of the pan.
The smell is very pungent, clear, and it starts to be bitter and musk scented, caramelized; the colour, which is uniform, should be transformed from hazel to brown-red, but nothing must burn.
In the first stage of the sauce cooking it is very important to obtain a sweet browning of the chopped vegetables, otherwise their different tastes risk to be flattened in a "caramelized" taste, if too cooked, or in a "too sweet" taste, if few browned. The ability of the chef is very important in this operation, it is a real exercise of skill, with whom it is possible to demonstrate the cooking maturity. According to our opinions this maturity consists in "dominating" the fire/heat, to be in competition with it as it is concerned with the characteristics of the cooking foods; they have to be forged by means of the fire, they have to change, but according to the cooking requirements of the chef and not to the burning tentacles of fire. So that adjust the heat, increasing or decreasing it, turning the stuff with more or less quick movements, with more vigour if these movements are short, sharp, insisting on the same point in order to scrape off the bottom of the pan, or more softly and with wide spirals in order to caress the cooking stuff; never leave the saucepan alone until the over mentioned stuff will get brown and give off a fragrant and penetrating smell.
When you have obtained it, add the minced meats, crumbling them, turning and mixing them with the chopped vegetables; then add the pieces of sheep, mix them with all the over described ingredients and brown them with the same care as above.
When the meats will reach a certain hazel colour, bathe them with the wine, let it evaporate, always over a brisky heat, covering with a lid and continuously turning. When there will not be any more wine smell, but there will be the characteristic smell of the sheep meat, add the mixture of herbs, turn and mix very well, then let the stuff boil adjusting for a slow cooking, cover with a lid and turn sometimes. Even if there is the lid, the stuff will start to gradually dry; wait, intensify the "turning" operation in order to avoid anything will attach on the bottom of the pan, then blend the tomato, together with the tomato purée, a pinch of salt and pepper and a big spoon of hot water, add this mixture to the sheep meat and to its sauce in the saucepan. Turn and mix, adjust for a slow cooking, cover with a lid and cook until the meat will become very tender.
Boil the pasta, drain it, put it in a tray, season it with abundant sheep sauce and turn it as to mix it perfectly. Then, after having digged the pasta in the middle, like a "fountain", put over the stewed pieces of meat and cover with some more sauce; then serve it like a first and second course.
This recipe is part of nostalgic souvenirs of Leopardi "pastori erranti" and, at the same time, it is part of nostalgic souvenirs linked to the childhood spent in the "prata" (meadows) of S.Angelo a Lecore with the shepherds of Campi, who represent the very last and direct descendants of the Etruscan people ("Non c'è altro popolo in Italia, oltre al pratese, che mangi pecora; ed è come dire che non v'è altro popolo in cui sia così vivo lo spirito degli antichi etruschi, gran mangiatori di pecorame" *Malaparte 1956*). The Tuscany personality should thank these people for their genuine and real features, the first of them is represented by the capacity to be amazed facing "il naturale fiorire della vita" *D.H. Lawrence 1895*.
For this reason this is a type of cooking rich of natural aromatic fragrances and this recipe is an example of loyalty to the tradition and to the relationship with the historical memory. The justification of the tasty parametres? Natural tastes and aroms, manipulated as less as possible. "Tutto è incerto e manca di norma e di modello, dacchè ci allontaniamo da quello, della natura, unica forma e ragione del modo di essere" (Giacomo Leopardi, "Zibaldone" p.ms. 1613).
So that, as you have already noticed, in this recipe we have not indicated the cooking time. If we had indicated it, we would have betrayed the spirit of this recipe, because it is compulsory to let one's go to the senses, when we face things in a "totally" (and not only "mentally") active and positive manner, and we let ourselves go to our natural "genius": "La ragione è nemica di ogni grandezza: la ragione è nemica della natura: la natura è grande, la ragione è piccola". (Giacomo Leopardi, "Zibaldone". p.ms. 14)

A Giuseppe Alessi recipe
Translated by Gianna Toni
Picture by Kee-Ho Casati

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