Pizzoccheri. Some traditional recipes can fill your belly and your heart at the same time (particularly if you pair it with a good traditional Valtellina Superiore wine). If you travel to Valtellina and specifically to the Teglio Village you can’t miss this amazing dish.
Don’t rely on imitation though! As every proper good Italian food, the fab taste does not come only from mixing together the right ingredients but also from the quality and freshness of the ingredients! Buckwheat possibly stone-milled, very fresh cabbage, proper local traditional fat butter are some of the must-have ingredients you must try to source.
Pizzoccheri follows the tradition of typical traditional food from the alps including cheese, butter, potatoes, cabbage and similar … you get the idea…
Ingredients: Pizzoccheri (450/500 g), potatoes (2), cabbage (possibly fresh), garlic (2 halves), butter (80g) – Bitto/Storico Ribelle or Grana Padano (40 g), Casera or other half-fat cheese (180 g)
Optional ingredients: sage (2 leaves), 2 finely chopped leeks
- Pizzoccheri – buckwheat flat ribbon pasta, available in some supermarkets or specialist delis, Amazon as well as several other online shops have some or prepare them yourself, I often use the Italian cooking website GialloZafferano as our “go-to” website. It’s in Italian only but it should be easy to follow or translate.
- Grana Padano – unless you can source some 5/7 years old Bitto or Storico Ribelle
- “Half-fat” cheese. The recommended food is Valtellina Casera but any similar cheese will do well (in Italy we call the cheese category “latteria”). I browsed quickly the Cheese Stall in Winchester and I feel the Tomme de Savoie or the Stoney Cross are worth a try (I will confirm it after I will use them myself, Miky claims they are too strong like Fontina… we will update this post soon). Please DO NOT use fontina as the BBC Food website recommend (Fontina is far too strong for this recipe). I love Fontina but I would not use it for Pizzoccheri. In Winchester, there is the amazing Cheese Stall.
Like you cook pasta bring a pan of salted water to the boil (10g per litre), add the potatoes chopped in small squares, wait for 2 minutes and then the cabbage (and the optional leeks)
After 4 minutes add half of the pizzoccheri, stir well and then add the other half.
- In another pan melt the butter adding also the garlic (and the optional sage).
Warm gently a large pan and start melting some cheese in it. Check the cooking time of your pizzoccheri and reduce the heating of the pan.
Drain the pizzoccheri, cabbage and potatoes with a slotted spoon. Add part of them to the pan with the cheese. Then add other “half-fat” cheese and keep going between cheese and the rest until you finish both of them. At this stage, I would add on top the bitto before covering it with a table cloth and keep resting for a minute or two allowing the cheese to melt properly. An old tradition consists of putting the pan with the pizzoccheri over the pan with hot water to keep them warm.
Remove from the heat, stir in the parmesan and the butter/garlic. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve.
Enjoy this dish with the warm melting cheese and a good glass of red wine!