Monday, April 17, 2006

Cuisine of Le Marche

You may be more familiar with the foods and wines of other regions of Italy. Marchegian cuisine is varied, as its provinces, which hug the Adriatic and Apennines. While I lived in Urbania, I tried to sample much of the regional cuisine. One of my favorites (I recalled eating over and over again!) was Olive all'ascolana (stuffed olives from Alla Ascoli Piceno). (You may come across different names, olive alla marchigiana, but as long as it's stuffed and deep fried, you're on the right track!) It's not a main dish, but an antipasto of deep-fried stuffed green olives. The dish requires a lot of manual labor, one I'm not particularly fond of, but I'll pass along the recipe.

Another dish that is particular to Le Marche is Vincisgrassi, which I was unable to sample. It's similar to lasagne with meat sauce.

Le Marche Recipes
Olive all'ascolana - Version 1
Olive all'ascolana - Version 2 (Italian)
Olive all'ascolana - Version 3

This last version (#4), is from a cookbook I have. I haven't tried it, but I'll post it because I LOVE eating stuffed olives!

Olive all'ascolana (stuffed olives alla Ascoli Piceno) Recipe
Serves 6
1 cup stock
1/4 lb. (100 g.) bacon, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 lb. ground pork
about 6 oz. (150 g.) beef
1 tablespoons tomato paste
3-4 (50 g.) chicken livers
1 egg
3/4 cup (50 g.) parmesan cheese, freshly grated
grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
approximately 50 large, green olives in brine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 eggs (to coat)
oil for deep-frying

Directions: Soak 3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs in stock. Fry the bacon in olive oil, add the pork and beef, and fry these as well. Dilute the tomato paste with lukewarm water and add to the meat. When the meat is tender, add the chicken livers and fry for a further 5 minutes. Then grind all these ingredients in a food processor. Add the egg, parmesan, and soaked breadcrumbs to the meat and mix well. Season to taste with cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pit the olives and stuff with the mixture. Coat in flour, beaten egg, and breadcrumbs, and deep-fry in plenty of hot olive oil until crisp. Drain on kitchen towels and serve hot.

More links to recipes from Le Marche
Delicious Italy
Food and Wine Mag

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