The culinary traditions of Trento benefit from a variety of influences. For example, instead of prosciutto, you will encounter speck, the region’s version of aged ham. Instead of gnocchi, in Trentino they make canederli. It was created to ensure that even scraps of stale bread and leftovers were not wasted. The bread was combined with simple ingredients such as herbs, leftover cheese, milk, scraps of meat and transformed into the canederli. Today some are even mixed with fruit and served as dessert. We have included a delicious recipe for Maltagliati Pasta with Wild Mushrooms. The pasta is another example of not allowing anything to go to waste and was adopted from the Emilia Romagna. The wild mushroom that is used in the recipe, the chanterelle, is common to the wooded areas of Trentino, but are very expensive when purchased locally! If you are not adept at foraging for your own mushrooms, you can substitute cremini mushrooms instead. The desserts of the region tend more toward the Austrian influence, such are as strudels, but in the city of Trento, an excellent chestnut pudding is prepared and we have included that recipe as well.
Canederli with Speck
12 slices day old bread, diced with crust
2/3 cup warm whole milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
1/2 tsp salt
Fresh black pepper
2 tsp flat leaf parsley, minced
3/4 cup grated Asiago cheese
2-3 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ lb speck, diced
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 small yellow onion, diced
8 cups beef broth
Grana Padano cheese, grated
Place the diced bread in a bowl and add the milk. Mix well and allow the bread to soak in the milk for 30 minutes – it should become soft, but not mushy. Stir in the eggs, salt, pepper, parsley, Asiago cheese and 2 tablespoons of flour. Set aside.
In a sauté pan, cook the speck with the onion in the butter over a medium flame until onions are soft and speck is beginning to brown, about 4 minutes; allow to cool. Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Let rest covered for 30 minutes.
In a large pot, bring the beef broth to a light boil. Have a bowl of water handy to wet your hands. Test the dough to make sure you have a mixture that will hold together when boiled. Roll a small amount of the dough into a ball and drop it into the boiling broth; if it disintegrates, add a tablespoon of flour and test again. If the dough does not disintegrate, form 8 – 12 golf ball-sized canederli. Add them to the boiling broth; reduce the flame to a simmer and cook the canederli for 3 – 5 minutes until they rise to the top of the broth.
Ladle two or three canederli into soup bowls and top with the broth. Serve hot. Add a sprinkling of Grana Padano cheese over the top.
Maltagliati Pasta with Wild Mushrooms
Maltagliati literally means badly cut and was originally made from the scraps of other rolled pasta.
For the pasta
1 lb of 00 flour
2 egg yolks
1 pinch of salt
For the sauce
8 oz chanterelle (or cremini) mushrooms
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
2 white onions, chopped
1 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
6 oz white wine
salt and pepper,
4 oz aged Grana Padano cheese, grated
For the pasta – combine all of the ingredients and mix until a smooth dough is achieved. Roll out a sheet with a thickness of about 2mm thick and cut into diamond shapes about an inch wide. Use a fluted pastry wheel to create a ruffled edges, if you do not have one, just use a sharp knife instead. Allow the pasta to dry.
Prepare the sauce by melting the butter in a large pan over a medium flame and sautéing the onions and garlic until the onions become translucent and the garlic begins to color. Cut the chanterelles into slices after they have been thoroughly washed and dried and add them to mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Add the parsley and pour in the white wine. Cook over a medium flame for 5 minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate.
Boil a pot of lightly-salted water and cook the pasta for about 3 minutes, until al dente. Drain and serve the maltagliati with the mushroom sauce and top with grated Grana Padano cheese.
Chestnuts are often associated with the winter months, but in Trento, you will find this pudding to be most popular during the summer and early fall.
2 lbs chestnuts
10 oz sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Cut into each of the chestnuts so that the boiling water will soften them for peeling. Cook the chestnuts in a large pot of boiling water for 10-12 minutes. Remove each from the water, drain and peel. Return the peeled chestnuts to the boiling water and cook for another 40 minutes. Remove the cooked chestnuts from the water and once cool enough to handle, finely chop by hand, or in a food processor.
In a large stovetop-safe casserole dish, boil 10 ounces of sugar in 4 ounces of water along with ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract. Once a thick syrup has formed, add the chopped, cooked chestnuts and stir to combine. Mix until the ingredients are thoroughly combined. The final result will be a delicious, thick pudding that is served with whipped cream in either a pudding dish, or on a plate as a large dumpling-like dollop.