Inghams Italy Advent- 15 dicembre
Mon Dec 2014
It is impossible to name just once recipe which could be considered as the symbol of Christmas lunch in Italy. For this festivity, it is all down to regional flavours and traditions. In every house, mothers and grandmothers lovingly and proudly prepare family recipes, usually based on locally sourced products. Christmas, we could say, is not only about celebrating a special bond with the family, but also with the territory.
You will find that fish and seafood dominate on most Christmas tables in the South. Dishes like spaghetti ai frutti di mare (spaghetti with seafood)or fritto misto di pesce (deep fried mixed seafood) are very popular. In Northern Italy, where the climate is more continental and the Alps are much closer, food is more hearty, comforting and oozy.
Agnolotti are a great example of Northern Italian comfort food. The name is actually a regional term for ravioli, squares of fresh pasta with a filling. Agnolotti can have various fillings, but for Christmas are rigorously made with meat. Traditionally, the filling is made with 3 different types of meat: veal, pork and rabbit. Making the pasta dough, working it until it is thin like paper, slow cooking the meat with vegetables and herbs and then making dozens and dozens of agnolotti requires several hours of patience.
In the past, women used to gather in the kitchen and spend the cold winter days cooking and chatting together. Now, even in Italy life is more fast-paced and even if in some families pasta is made from scratch, the vast majority of families either buys agnolotti from the supermarket or orders them from the local deli (gastronomia).
If you want to try a festive but also quick version of agnolotti, buy some good quality meat ravioli, cook them in a lot of salted boiling water for only a few minutes. Serve them in a meat reduction sauce or, very traditionally, in a hot and aromatic broth. A great Italian winter warmer!