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Ferrara Macaroni Pie

Le Occare, an ancient Farmhouse in the countryside of Ferrara

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Traditional Ferrara Macaroni Pie is a very special recipe whose origin dates back to the court of Este and its fasts in the Renaissance. It's a very rich and elaborated pie with an external sweet pastry fulled with macaroni, a creamy sauce named béchamel, ragout, truffles and if you want mushrooms. This recipe is very old and still prepared in our territory and is reported by Pellegrino Artusi in its renamed recipe book “La scienza in cucina e l'arte di mangiar bene”. This recipe its also mentioned in the book “Il Gattopardo” by Tomasi di Lampedusa, you certainly remember the movie with Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale and Alain Delon. In a very special dinner the "Pasticcio di Maccheroni" is offered by Don Fabrizio Corbera, the Prince of Salina, to its guests, and the arrival of the wonderful macaroni pies in their tin plated dishes causes a great effect to his table companions. The traditional preparation requires a very special hand made tin plated copper dish, decorated with an internal design that was unique for every important family in Ferrara. I was very lucky and was able to recover one of this ancient traditional dishes and then to have some copies performed by an artisan master.

The use of the original dish greatly improves the recipe, for your ability to give to the pie the original domed shape and for the thermal properties of copper that are essential for a perfect cooking of the pie. Another must is to use the pigeon meat for the ragout, following the ancient recipe and to add the truffle, in this case the right truffle is the Tuber borchii Vittadini, that's traditional of the territory and moreover, differently from the Alba truffle, the precious Tuber magnatum Pico, is not deteriorated with the cooking. In fact the truffle is used in the interior of the pie and have to maintain its taste after the long cooking time. This is my recipe:
for 14 peoples
For the pastry:
250 gr of butter
500 gr of flour
120 gr of sugar
a raped lemon peel
½ glass of water
knead all together and put it in the refrigerator, protected by an alimentary film for one day
For the béchamel:
100 gr of flour
100 gr of butter
1 lt of milk
melt the butter, add the flour and the salt, add the milk little by little and bring to boiling point mixing all the time.
For the ragout:
1 boned pigeon
200 gr of beef
200 gr of pig
manually grind the meat and brown it in a pot with a little bit of minced onion. add ½ a glass of marsala
Let to evaporate and add salt and pepper.

Cook in boiling water 200 gr of macaroni “al dente”, drain and add to the béchamel. Divide the pastry into two pieces. Withe the first make a disc that you put on the traditional copper dish, then put over it a layer of macaroni, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, the truffles in thin slices, the ragout, than make another layer in the same shape and than another one giving to your construction the shape of a cone. Put the other part of the pastry over it to close the pie, firmly close the edges, make on the apex a little chimney with a round hole covered with a little dish of pastry hold by three toothpicks.Paint the pastry with the beaten white of an egg, put in the oven at 180 degree C° for 1 hour. Wait 15 minutes before to serve. A lot of work, but when you will arrive with your superb dish the success is assured.