In the Kitchen with Marcella

Marcella is usually in charge of the kitchen in the villa where we experienced the Foodie Adventure, however, during this week she ceded her position to Chef Michael and his enthusiastic crew.

 One night she did come in to show us just how to properly make pici, a type of pasta new to me.  Once again, it’s lots of flour on the board to keep the dough from sticking.  (My husband has promised to make me one of these because it is ever so much better than the countertop!)

Olive oil is generously poured on the top

before it is cut into symmetrical widths and rolled into very long, skinny lengths.

Once it is cooked, the piti can be topped with any number of sauces.  This night Chef Michael prepared one made with wild boar which was delicious.  You just might want to try it, and don’t cheat by using bought pasta because fresh is many times better!

Pici Pasta with Wild Boar Sugo

Pici Pasta Dough

2 1/2 c. flour

2 large eggs, slightly beaten

1 t. salt

1 T. extra virgin olive oil

1/4 c. warm water

Place the flour on a clean working counter and make a well in the center.  Add the remaining ingredients to the center of the well and gradually mis the dry ingredients into the wet, forming a smooth/soft dough.  Add additional water if necessary to make the dough soft.

Knead the dough 10 minutes, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. (This makes about a pound of dough.)

After the dough has rested, roll it out to a rectangle about 12 inches long x 1/4″ thick.  Drizzle a little olive oil on top of the pasta and, using your palm, spread the oil over the entire top surface.

Using a knife or cutter, cut the dough into 12″ x 3/8″.  Take a strip of pasta and place it on a wide, empty counter or board.  Using both hands, palms down, roll the strips into thick/long spaghetti like strands.  As you roll, move your hands apart to help stretch the dough.  The final strands should be quite long, with a thickness of 1/8-3/16″.  They will be a little irregular in shape, showing the pasta is handmade.

As each strand is completed, sprinkle it with flour to prevent it from sticking to other strands.  Lay out on a baking sheet, being careful not to crowd them.  As the strands are layered, separate the layers with wax paper.

To cook, put into boiling water and stir at once to separate the strands.  Cook for about 5 minutes.

Wild Boar Sugo

3 ozs. dried porcini mushrooms

1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 c. each finely chopped onion, carrot and celery

2 ozs. finely chopped pancetta

1 lb. coarsely ground lean wild boar or pork, veal, beef

1/2 c red wine

6 oz. tomato paste

28 oz. diced tomatoes, fresh or canned

3 c. meat stock

1 bay leaf

Soak the mushrooms in 2 c. hot water for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid, and cut into 1/2″ pieces.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat and add the onions, carrots and celery.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the pancetta and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the ground meat and stir, breaking up the clumps, until lightly browned.

Pour in the red wine; cook 5 minutes or until nearly evaporated.

Stir in the tomato paste, cook 5 additional minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the diced tomatoes, stock, reserved mushroom liquid and bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Add the porcini mushrooms and continue to simmer for 1 hour.

Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper.

All that’s left is for you to enjoy this incredible dish.  I’m not likely to find the wild boar, but the other suggested meats should be just as tasty.  What I like about this particular pasta is that it can be made without a pasta machine.

Oh, I should tell you that Marcella is featured in a cookbook, Flavours of Tuscany, which, of course, we all bought and had her autograph.

i love your comments, so jump right in and share your thoughts

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9 thoughts on “In the Kitchen with Marcella

  1. Have loved every Italian foodie excursion posting. From looking at your photos…I have no doubt that you have had a wonderful adventure cooking and enjoying! Now babysitting for my two year old and five month old granddaughters, which I special. But, having fun tuning into your Italian musings for a “tasteful” respite from hot dogs and bottles:o)

  2. What a fun experience you must be having! I also love cooking and this looks like a first class way to learn and see a beautiful country. Have a wonderful time!


    1. You are right in every respect. So often cooking classes are more watch me than do, but not our afternoon sessions where we up to our elbows in flour!

  3. Wow! Wild boar — sure makes my grilled chicken sound boring. What a fun post.

    1. We did grilled chicken one night as well, and it may have been even better! It marinated in olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, herbs for 24+ hours and then was cooked on bricks!

  4. Love the picture of you, Linda. What an adventure. Happy Mother’s Day.

    1. Thank you, Bonnie, and here’re happy day wishes to you, too.

  5. How wonderful! I have been looking through your Italy photos… gorgeous. I would love to visit Italy. Someday maybe. 🙂 So glad Linsey mentioned your trip. It was lovely to visit Italy today! Hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend!

    1. Jennifer, I am so glad you stopped by and hope you will do so again. Of all the places I’ve been lucky enough to travel, Italy is at the top of the list. It is magic in so many ways, so I hope you do make it there to find your own magic.

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