Recipes of Friuli-Venezia Giulia

The food of Friuli-Venezia Giulia is made up of a variety of flavors which actually unite the cultures present in the region. Polenta is a very popular dish and when mixed with vegetables, beans and salumi, it becomes a meal in itself. The names of the respective dishes are zuf, mesta, paparot, and jota.

A Central European influence is evident in the consumption of soups and dumplings rather than pasta. You will find barley soups, cialson, or spinach dumplings from Carnia, plum dumplings and pistum – another type of dumpling made with raisins and breadcrumbs.

There are a number of cured meats or salumi from Friuli worth seeking out. Prosciutto di San Daniele DOP is perhaps the most well-known and sought after. San Daniele prosciutto is made exclusively within the city limits of the municipality of San Daniele del Friuli, in the province of Udine. Internationally-acclaimed, it is one of the best prosciuttos in the world, perhaps second only to Prosciutto di Parma. The meat must come from pigs bred in one of the northern or central regions of Italy, ideally from Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The leg is placed in salt for one day for each for each kilogram of weight. It is then placed in a press to flatten for one week. The prosciutto is then rubbed with salt and pepper and hung to dry for 2-3 months. It is then washed and covered with a lard mixture of pork fat, rice flour, salt, pepper and herbs and brought to the aging rooms, where it hangs for 15-18 months to reach an optimal level of maturation. That is a lot of work and a lot of time, but the results are well-worth it! Rather than curing your own prosciutto, purchase some San Daniele, sliced paper thin and use it in summer recipes. Try combining the prosciutto with melon or figs. Due to its versatility, the product can be used in many recipes. For example, wrap the prosciutto around asparagus and place in a heat-resistant dish greased with butter and mascarpone cheese and then bake in the oven, or try this dish:

San Daniele Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken

Ingredients Preparation
  • 1 pound of chicken tenderloins
  • Dried oregano leaves, to taste
  • 3 ounces of San Daniele prosciutto
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Clean and wash the tenderloins and transfer to a plate. Cover with dried oregano. Flip over the tenderloin pieces and season with oregano. Lay the seasoned chicken on a piece of prosciutto and roll around the chicken. Transfer the wrapped chicken to a baking dish and repeat with all remaining pieces of chicken and prosciutto.

Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm. Easy and delicious, it’s a great treat for an appetizer.

Trieste Style Spider Crab
The spider crab (granseola in Italian) is typically found along the Italian coasts. The way it is prepared in Trieste is perfect if you are looking for a simple, but flavorful dish.

Ingredients Preparation
  • ½ onion
  • lemon juice
  • 3½ oz breadcrumbs
  • 1 oz butter
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • parsley to taste
  • 1 spider crab, or any fresh lump crabmeat
Cook the spider crab in a large pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and let cool. Remove the claws and open them with a nutcracker, removing the meat and placing it in a bowl. Using a knife and a pair of scissors, open the shell of the crab, starting with the underside. Remove all of the meat and mix it in the bowl with the claw meat. Then, tear all of the crab meat into smaller pieces.

Finely chop the onion and sauté in butter with the breadcrumbs and parsley. Remove from the heat and add the juice and the grated peel of the lemon. Also add the oil and crabmeat. Stir together and serve over a bed of rice or lettuce.

Polenta with Skewered Meats

Ingredients Preparation
  • 8 ounces pancetta, sliced
  • 8 ounces round of beef fillets
  • 12 leaves fresh sage
  • 1 pound pork loin, cut into fillets
  • 4 ounces veal cutlet
  • 12 skewers
  • 4 links fennel sausage, removed from casing and cut into chunks
  • 4 ounces pancetta, cubed
  • 2 cups polenta
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup basic meat broth
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
Place 1 slice of pancetta on each beef fillet. Cover with a piece of sage and roll into a tight cylinder. Do the same for the pork and veal. Thread the rolled meats onto the skewers, alternating with chunks of sausage and cubes of pancetta.

Meanwhile, make the polenta – bring 8 cups salted water to a rolling boil over medium heat in a heavy-gauge saucepan. Reduce the heat to low, pour in the polenta in a steady stream. Cook, whisking frequently until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan and the whisk stands up by itself in the center of the polenta.

While the polenta is cooking, heat the butter in a skillet over low to moderate heat and cook the skewers a few minutes per side until golden. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for 15 minutes, adding broth as necessary to keep the meats from sticking.

Spoon the cooked polenta onto a serving platter and place the skewers on top.

Dolce Gubana
Throughout the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia you’ll find quaint local restaurants. One of the specialty desserts of Cividale del Friuli is gubana. It is typical for both the Christmas and Easter periods, but is now enjoyed all year round in Friuli. It was first served in the 15th century at a banquet for Pope Gregory XII when he visited Cividale. Not to be confused with the presnitz from Trieste, whose shape is that of a horseshoe and made of a lighter pasta sfoglia, here is how to make it your dolce gubana.

Ingredients Preparation
  • 3 ounces of sultanas
  • 12 ounces of butter
  • 4 ounces of chopped nuts,
  • 2 ounces of pine nuts
  • 3 ounces of candied fruit
  • 1 ounce of almonds
  • 1 spoonful of bread crumbs
  • 3 eggs
  • Confectionary sugar
  • Grated rind of lemon
  • Grated rind of orange
  • ‘Malaga’ wine to soak the sultanas
  • 12 ounces of white flour
  • 2 spoonfuls of Grappa
Mix a third of the flour and butter together. Mix the remaining flour with the Grappa and an egg to make a second batch of dough. Leave both to rest on one side.

Place the sultanas in the wine to soften them up. Boil the nuts in hot water and chop them finely along with the candied fruit. Throw them all into a bowl and add the pine nuts and grated rind from the lemon and orange, together with the sultanas and the bread crumbs. Mix well and fold in the yolk of an egg and the white of the egg which has been beaten previously.

The two pastries should now be rolled and laid together to form a light “pasta sfogliata.” Place all the mixture from the bowl onto the pastry and fold over to hide the mixture. Take the two ends of the pastry and form a spiral bun shape. Flour the dough and baste with another egg yolk. Sprinkle on the sugar and place in a hot oven for around 45 minutes.

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