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Pici to the poor for the MTC


The cheerful and amused spirit with which recipes are approached in the MTC has always involved me. Finding out that the last challenge had been won by Patricia it immediately made me think that my moment had come, a friend had received the scepter and I had to find the courage to embark on this beautiful undertaking, it was no longer enough to follow everything from afar. As Patty herself told me, MTC is, first of all, a way to learn how to make preparations that you would hardly test yourself with. Furthermore, you can “torture” whoever proposed the recipe by asking for explanation after explanation and draw, at the end of the challenge, from a recipe book of dozens and dozens of variations on the theme. In all this, a light-hearted and playful spirit which I really need these days… I'm a bit tired of people who take themselves too seriously 🙂

And since they asked for a condiment a km zeroso I couldn't help but get up early on Saturday morning, go to the fish shop in the covered market and buy half a kilo of clams, which here in Romagna are called poor things. Of course the recipe is not from the peasant tradition but it is absolutely from the maritime tradition, when the women left on land couldn't help but start picking clams along the beach to prepare something to bring to the table while waiting for the boats to return. And the women always moved from the sea to the hinterland and shouted “The farm… don't!” i.e. “clams.. women!” to sell their husbands' catch door to door. As a child I also had the pleasure of seeing an elderly lady at work who passed by my grandparents' house on her old bicycle to which she had attached a wooden box with the fish inside. She's really old fashioned stuff…

But let's get to the nitty gritty. In practice, pici are very similar to what we call strozzapreti. Always water and flour, a spoonful of oil if desired. But the process for making them is different: the former are ironed on the work surface, the latter are rolled up in the hands with a quick gesture and then cut, while the pici must be long and thin. It seems like little but it isn't. The consistency of the pici is tougher, they are thinner and more uniform while the strozzapreti are softer, shorter and slightly chubbier. And to think that I thought I knew them after tasting them in a tavern in Siena 16 years ago and then in Florence recently… but instead they were a discovery that I won't forget to repeat.

I'm coming to the recipe, I've been talking too much lately 🙂

Pici with poor people's sauce (for 2 people)

  • 100 g of 00 flour
  • 50 g of re-milled semolina flour
  • 1 generous spoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil
  • water to taste
  • 500 g of clams (lupini or poveraccia)
  • a spoonful of chopped parsley
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato puree
  • extra virgin olive oil

(I report Patrizia's procedure). Make a well with the two mixed flours. Pour in the oil and begin to slowly pour in the water, incorporating the flour with a fork. (I didn't add salt, the seasoning is already quite tasty and the salt tends to harden the dough too much). Begin kneading using the palms of your hands near your wrists. If necessary, add water or flour. Fold the dough on itself as for egg pasta and never stretch the dough too much so as not to weaken it. “Massage” vigorously for at least 10 minutes. Leave to rest for half an hour wrapped in cling film or under a plate. Take the dough, cut a small piece and make a ball of it, then roll it out on a pastry board with a rolling pin to a thickness of 1 cm. Using a pastry cutter or a sharp knife, cut many strips approximately 1 cm wide and cover the rest of the dough with cling film to prevent it from drying out.
IMP: “Roll” the pici, rolling the dough with the palms of your hands and at the same time stretching it outwards. When rolling very long pici, the technique is to pull them from one side while holding the other end with the palm and slowly stretching them until the dough runs out. Once you have rolled the picio, roll it in semolina or foil flour so that it does not stick to the others.

For the sauce: tip the clams into a bowl filled with cold, lightly salted water. Leave them there for half an hour, then drain them and rinse them under water a couple of times. Place a drizzle of oil in an already hot pan, pour in the clams and close with the lid. Wait a couple of minutes before lifting the lid to check the opening. If they haven't all opened, let them cook for another minute, no more. Leave to cool, shell the clams, keeping a dozen aside for decoration. The liquid that will remain in the pan must be filtered using cotton wool and a strainer, in order to eliminate any sand present. In another pan, pour a couple of tablespoons of oil and add the finely chopped parsley and garlic. Leave to fry for a couple of minutes, add the tomato puree and when it has dried a little, add the shelled clams and their liquid. Cook for another minute. Once the pici have been drained, pour them into the sauce and sauté them quickly.

With this recipe I participate in the MTC in January:

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