Please Pass the Passatelli

passatelli 2

In Italy they sometimes extrude the food.  In the case, for example, of passatelli.

Eaten in broth or with sauce, passatelli are a mix of breadcrumbs, egg, a grated hard cheese such as Parmigiano or pecorino, lemon zest, and nutmeg, all mixed together into an “impasto” and then extruded.  Passatelli would be a quintessential farmer or contadino food, the base being dry leftover bread. (Ribolitta, a typical Florentine and Tuscan dish with leftover bread as its base, also comes to mind.)

When the impasto is ready, the mass is extruded into strings usually about the size of a pencil or slightly smaller. At home the work is done by hand with a device like these:

passatelli iron

passatelli iron 2

Yesterday we had lunch in the hills above Fano, a quiet, modestly gorgeous old Roman town on the Adriatic, at a restaurant called Osteria del Pisello. A raucous lunch in a large room with a high ceiling, the space warmed by a giant wide screen television projecting a fireplace gif.  Digital fire, actual food. Our server told me they seated over 120 people for the Sunday afternoon pranzo. For our primo piatto we had pappardelle with boar sauce, then passatelli. Here they are, passatelli in a vegetable sauce.

passatelli osteria pisello

To serve passatelli to 120 people or more, and to have them arrive perfect at the table, is part of the magic of the Italian cuisine and the Italian trattoria/osteria.  They must have an industrial size extruder back there in the kitchen. 

In broth, passatelli are a comfort food like cappelletti would be; in sauce they are gorging food.  After lunch my wife says, “We should make passatelli at home.” We could do that, they way we cook many of the things we enjoy here in restaurants. It’s just that over here, all those home-cooked wonders are readily available at bargain prices. You walk in and eat family style.  Yesterday we had a home-cooked meal with 120 people. Buon appetito.

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