I already talked about the Croxetti in this post. They’re a special pasta from Liguria made with a special wooden stamp we managed to get our hands on while visiting the little town of Varese Ligure. The stamps are carved by hand by Mr. Pietro Picetti, which runs a small shop just next to the stone bridge in the city center. If you ever plan to go to Liguria for a trip in Cinque Terre, I strongly advise you to plan your trip to make a stop in Varese Ligure (just try NOT to plan the stop on Wednesday like us, since all the shop are usually closed) and buy one.
While the stamp totally makes your work easier and faster, you can create the Croxetti with a simple cookie stamp of 1-1.5 inch diameter, but i strongly suggest you to impress something on their surface, since it will allow the pasta to take up the sauce much better. Maybe you can use a fork, or some cookie stamps. Anything that can make the surface of the little disks not flat. Obviously, I suggest to go there, and buy one stamp. Mr. Picetti work is outstanding, and it deserves all the credit. He saved a dish from oblivion, and we owe him much more than the €30 he charges for a stamp.
The following recipe is copied from the original paper Mr. Picetti gave us for the pasta and the sauce, with just small adjustments due to unit conversions. All the ingredients for the sauce are doubled: I use to make a lot of sauce to freeze it and use later during the month.
- 5 cups (600gr) of flour
- 3 medium sized eggs
- 1 glass of water
- 1/4 cup (50gr) of butter
- 1/2 cup (60gr) of grated parmigiano reggiano or grana padano
- 0.5lbs of mixed beef and pork ground meat
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 400gr pelati can
- 2 medium sized onion
- 2 fresh rosemary twigs
- 4 bay tree leaves
- 1 full glass of dry white wine
- 2 oz of dried porcini mushrooms
Direction for the Sauce
Rehydrate the mushrooms with 4 cups of not too hot water, drain them and filter the water with a strainer and a paper towel to filter out all the earth. We’ll use the water later to give the sauce additional taste.
Cut the pelati in pices, remove all the seeds, and place them in a bowl with their sauce with a teaspoon of salt and fresh grinded pepper (1).
If you use a clay pot, preheat it with the half cup of oil until it’s very hot. Then finely cut the onion and add it to the pot (2). Let the onion sautè until it loses all the water and becomes to get golden, then add a ladle of mushroom water to block the cook.
In another, normal, pot, cook the meat at high heat until all its water evaporates and it gets brown, sautè with a glass of dry white wine until reduced, then add the meat to the onions in the clay pot (3). This step can be skipped if you’re not using a clay pot as your primary pot, you can brown the meat directly with the onion. Clay pots are awesome for sauces, but it takes forever to brown the meat on them.
Add the tomatoes with their sauce (4), the mushrooms (5), the bay leaves and the rosemary twigs (6) and a ladle or two of the mushrooms water, cook at high heat until boiling, then lower to minimum and let it simmer for at least two hours (7). Mix from time to time to avoid the bottom to burn, and if it gets too dry, add a ladle of mushroom water. While the sauce is cooking we’re gonna make croxetti.
Direction for the Pasta
In a bowl, add 5 cups of all purpose flour and the finely grated parmesan, make a hole in the center, and add the eggs (9). Start mixing the eggs with a fork in the center until they can’t absorb any more flour, then add the butter, and the glass of water with two teaspoons of salt. Keep mixing with a fork, until the dough is formed, then place the dough on a table and start using your hands.
Keep kneading the dough for 15 to 20 minutes until you get a soft, smooth dough. Place it in a clean bowl, cover it with saran wrap and leave it rest for 15 minutes.
Then cut half of the ball (remember to cover the other half) and stretch it out with a rolling pin until it’s 0.1 inch thick. Then carve the disks with the stamp and impress the figure of your choice (or use the croxetti stamp, 10).
Cook the croxetti in a large pot with boiling salty water for 4 minutes, then drain them and mantecate them in a pan with part of the sauce at very high heat for one or two minutes. To make it creamy, add a ladle of the pasta water with the sauce and let it evaporate, then serve with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top.
Done! The pasta is ready, a delicious (yet strenuous to make, I agree) dish for special occasions. You can always let the croxetti dry on a wooden table for an hour and a half, and then freeze them for 6 months without any problem, and cook them when needed. That would make everything easier, I guess. 🙂
What do you think? Did you try them? Do you have any special occasion you would like to make them for?