Here we are at another episode in the series of delicious Tuscan dishes. Here we will touch both land and sea dishes and finish with a queue dedicated to Tuscan dry sweets.
Cod in the Florentine and livornese (photo title)
There is a bit of confusion when it comes to cod in Tuscany. The Florentine cod is often confused with the Leghorn one. However even the cod of both variants is entitled to inclusion among the most delicious Tuscan dishes. If you fry the cod fillet then you are making the Florentine recipe. In fact it is the most used even if on the menus there is the name of “cod alla livornese”. The cod alla livornese does not involve frying the fillet. The fillet, on the other hand, is cooked in oil with a base of white onion without flour. Then at the end it is blended with good Tuscan vinsanto. This is the real Livorno/Leghorn recipe, if you fry it you are making Florentine cod. In Florence in the past the only marine fish available were those that could be preserved in salt or dried. The most common were anchovies, sardines and cod in the variants of salted cod or dried cod. The cod in particular has made its fortune in Florence and its province. The main reason is the fact that the cost has always remained relatively low. Remember that the cod is salted. Either you buy it already soaked or you have to soak it yourself. If you do it by yourself it takes 4 days by changing the water two or three times a day. Of course, soaking is also used for desalting. Among its ingredients: flour, top extra virgin olive oil, garlic, tomato sauce, parsley, sage, salt and pepper.
The scottiglia is also called “cacciucco di carne” and is a typical dish of both Maremma and Casentino. In the scottiglia there are pork, chicken, veal, rabbit, turkey and lamb. In some recipes you can even read “Meat of all kinds” as long as it is cooked over low heat. The tomato and red wine make the final result very dark and juicy, hence the name “cacciucco di carne”.
Tonno del Chianti – Chianti tuna
As for the scottiglia, here too the meat mimics the fish that we usually find canned. In fact, the Chianti tuna has nothing to do with the sea tuna. In this case sea tuna is nothing more than pork. It is precisely the loin, cut into slices and kept covered with salt for 3 days. Then we move on to very slow cooking in white wine. Further steps are degreasing and conservation in oil and aromatic herbs. These steps produce a radical change in the texture of the pork. The loin becomes just as tender as tuna !! The tuna thus obtained can be kept for a month both as an appetizer and as a main course.
Peposo alla Fiorentina
For this dish it is really necessary to refer to history. The peposo alla fiorentina or peposo all’imprunetina, links its origins to Brunelleschi’s dome of Florence’s cathedral. Peposo, often listed among the delicious Tuscan dishes in the South Florence-Chianti area, was born around 1400. This was the period when Brunelleschi was engaged in the construction of the Dome of the Florence Cathedral. For the construction of the majestic dome, a substantial production of bricks from the Impruneta kilns was necessary.
The great Renaissance architect had to follow all the phases of the constructions. Besides he also had to take care of the workers’ safety and wellbeing. The workers had to get off the scaffolding for their lunch in the city and get back to work. All this was time-consuming and also dangerous for the safety of the workers themselves. The workers of the Impruneta furnaces, on the other hand, prepared their own lunch. Brunelleschi noticed that they put pieces of low-quality beef in traditional earthenware pots. Then they added red wine and black peppercorns. Finally, they placed the pots at the mouth of the kilns where the bricks were cooked and left them to cook slowly for hours.
Brunelleschi had two dining tables set up on the scaffolding of the dome. So the workers could eat without having to go down. The peposo came directly from Impruneta in the earthen pots, together with the bricks used for the dome. To bring the lunch up high he used the winches of the building yard. What do you think? Of course, the original recipe for peposo could not include tomato. In fact, this vegetable arrived in Europe long after the discovery of America in 1492. Therefore, in Florence around 1425 there could not be any tomatoes. Someone uses tomato in the peposo but it is good to know that it is not in the original recipe. This delicious Tuscan dish features only three ingredients: beef muscle, black pepper and Chianti wine.
Variants probably closer to the traditional recipe include garlic, oil, sage and rosemary. Make sure that both the oil and the wine be of good quality. Sometimes, especially with wine, we tend to think that any wine is enough to cook. Nothing more wrong. A good dish, however humble it may be, requires quality wine. Better if a good Chianti. Finally a word about the saucepan or pot suitable for cooking. To be more philologically correct we should use a typical Tuscan earthenware. But if there isn’t one, you can be satisfied with a metal pot. But be careful that for such a long cooking, a high bottom pot is required.
Among the delicious Tuscan dishes in the dessert area, biscuits cannot be missing. In Siena the most famous are undoubtedly the ricciarelli with their characteristic rice grain shape. These delicate and tasty biscuits are made up of almonds, sugar and egg white and covered with a veil of host.
Another typical Sienese biscuit is the cavalluccio (literally “little horse”). At the base of the little horse we find flour, sugar, honey, nuts and spices (anise, cinnamon, candied orange). There has always been debate on the origin of the name. Homage to the Palio or to the travelers on horseback who were served in the inns of the city?
Lamporecchio, in the province of Pistoia, is the home of the brigidini. Very thin wafers of sugar, flour, eggs and aniseed. The particular name of these sweets originates from a legend. The nuns of the convent of Santa Brigida made the hosts for Communion for the parishes of the district. One day, due to a mistake in the dough, they created these kinds of hosts by adding eggs, sugar and aniseed. The brigidini can well be counted among the most delicious Tuscan dishes. Excellent to nibble as a snack or to accompany a good Vinsanto at the end of a meal. In tea, chocolate or ice cream, brigidini are a delicious and energetic snack suitable for young and old.
Even the cantucci di Prato deserve a mention among the most delicious Tuscan dishes of the category. Very popular in the USA, they have become synonymous with widespread Italianness. In fact they are indicated everywhere with the generic name of biscuits. Prato is the well-established homeland above all for the fact that it has certified the first written proof. This privilege discourages all other competitors who want to give themselves a paternity of the recipe. These dry almond biscuits are forever consecrated to marriage with Vin Santo. Here, too, the rule of cooking wine applies. If we want to enhance the biscuit we need a good Tuscan vin santo.