The produce of L’Aquila is filled with robust rural flavors, such as recipes using the scorsone truffle, a black truffle that is harvested during July and August. Unusual local cuisine is one of the highlights of this remote mountainous region. The diavolicchio chili peppers appear in many specialties, including agnello diavolo, lamb chops cooked with the chilies and tempered with orange peel, rosemary and fennel. A favorite chicken dish in a very light white sauce is the hunter’s chicken, which uses saffron grown in L’Aquila. The first shoots of the prized and expensive spice appear in August and by early October are ready to be picked.
The typical wines of the Province are the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, while the most famous sweets are the confetti of Sulmona, the Ferratelle (sweet wafers with eggs and anise). We have selected a recipe for Bocconotti Montoriesi, which uses jam made from the Montepulciano grape.
Tagliolini alle Verdure dell’orto
Using freshly picked vegetables, this delicious pasta recipe is ideal for the early days of autumn.
1 lb tagliolini pasta
1 cup vegetable stock
½ cup of peas
8-10 green beans
freshly ground pepper
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
6-8 saffron threads
3 basil leaves
flat leaf parsley to garnish
Cube all the raw vegetables. Lightly sauté the onion in olive oil, then add the carrots, potato, green beans and peas and continue to sauté gently. Cook for about 20 minutes over a medium-low flame, gradually adding the vegetable stock when necessary as the liquid dries out. Add the zucchini and tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes, adding the saffron, ground pepper and basil. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
While the vegetable are cooking, prepare a pot of salted water for the pasta. Cook until al dente. Once done, retain a half cup of pasta water.
In a large bowl, mix the vegetables with the pasta and add the pasta water until the desired consistency is reached. Garnish with parsley and serve.
The name for this dish is misleading – chickens are not hunted in Abruzzo. The name derives from the hearty flavor of this recipe that is sure to please everyone at the table, hunter or not!
3 pound chicken – cut into two legs, two thighs, two wings and the breasts, cut in half
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium large onion, sliced
3 sprigs of parsley, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 diavolicchio pepper or fresh chili pepper, minced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
½ cup white wine
sprig of rosemary and sage leaves for garnish
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a skillet with a cover large enough to accommodate the entire chicken, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add as many chicken pieces as will fit in the bottom of the pan without crowding. As the pieces brown set them aside and continue with the remaining chicken until all pieces are browned.
Remove all of the chicken from the pan and add the onion, parsley, celery, chili and garlic. Sauté over a medium flame, while stirring until the onion becomes transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves and return all of the chicken to the pan.
Pour the white wine over the chicken and mix the ingredients well; continue cooking uncovered over a medium flame, allowing the wine to evaporate.
When the liquid in the pan has thickened, add 1/4 cup of water and reduce the flame to low. Cover cook for 45 – 60 minutes, until the chicken is tender. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary, a few sage leaves and serve.
These delicious rustic pastries celebrate Abruzzo’s harvesting of olives and wheat and uses a filling made with a jam produced from the region’s famed Montepulciano grapes.
For the Dough
3 egg yolks
5 oz superfine sugar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp baking powder
12 oz 00 flour
seeds from ½ vanilla pod
zest from one half lemon
1 teaspoon Grappa
pinch of salt
For the Filling
3/4 cup Montepulciano grape jam from Abruzzo (Sclucchiata)
1 tbsp lemon zest
pinch of cinnamon
2 oz grated dark chocolate
Mix the ingredients for the filling together. Sieve the flour. Mix the sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, oil and eggs together and pour into the flour. Stir to incorporate and then knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until the dough is soft and pliable. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. When ready to assemble the pastries, grease mini-muffin pans. Break off a tablespoon of dough and form into a ball, then take the ball of dough and press it into the mini mold and up against the edges. Trim off any excess with your fingers or the dull side of a knife. Repeat with the remaining molds. Add a generous teaspoon of filling to the center of the pastry.
Take another tablespoon of dough, form into a ball and with the palm of your hands; press it between two sheets of plastic wrap. Place the flattened disks over the jam filled bocconotti and press the dough around the edges of the molds to seal and then cut off any excess dough. The excess dough can be reused to form more tops if needed. Cook for 20 minutes and let cool before serving. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.