While most Italian recipes represent the foods and traditions of one town or region, this one from Le Marche has elements of Italian cooking from various parts of the country and is a good example of how Italy's cooking changed when it became a nation in 1861. The central Italian region of Le Marche is a crossroads that uses typical flavors of north, central and southern Italy. The reason for this is that Le Marche, until Italian unification, were papal lands that belonged to the Vatican but were also traversed by people traveling north and south on the Italian peninsula. This recipe uses veal and pork (found in northern and central Italian cooking), chicken livers (most common in central Italy) and tomatoes, the iconic flavor of the south. The grated cheese of choice is pecorino romano, very much part of the tradition of southern Italy. Despite the name, maccheroncelli (the pasta used here) is not macaroni used in southern Italy, but thin egg noodles. You can skip the effort of making these, if you wish, and purchase a good Italian brand of dried egg pasta such as tagliatelle or tagliolini.
7 tbsp/100 grams unsalted butter
6 ounces/150 grams loin of pork, cut into small chunks
6 ounces/150 grams veal, cut in small chunk
1 pound/2 cups/450 grams peeled plum tomatoes
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3-1/2 ounces/100 grams chicken livers, cleaned and minced
1 pound/450 grams dried tagliatelle or tagliolini
freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the pork and veal. Sauté on all sides until lightly browned.
2. Add the tomatoes and salt and pepper. Cover, and cook over low heat for 90 minutes. If too much liquid evaporates, add a little water or wine (such as Rosso Conero or Verdicchio).
3. Ten minutes before the cooking of the sauce is completed, stir in the minced chicken livers.
4. While the sauce is cooking, set a large pot of cold water to boil. When it reaches a boil, add a small pinch of salt. When the water returns to a full boil, cook the pasta according to package directions.
5. Time the cooking of the pasta to the completion of the sauce.
6. Put the pasta in a warm serving bowl, toss with sauce, and serve accompanied by freshly grated Pecorino Romano.
Wine: Rosso Conero (Red) or Verdicchio (White)
From Italy for the Gourmet Traveler (Kyle Books) by Fred Plotkin.
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