Strangolapreti, Speck and White Sauce
December 27, 2012. I'm starting my detox week today, after all that Christmas eating I honestly need a break from food. I am literally stuffed! Stuffed to the gills...overly, overly stuffed. This will be a week of sad (so sad) raw vegetables and smoothies. Sometimes it's just necessary to compensate.
On a different note...
Christmas for my family is made of family reunions and traditional Italian recipes. It's hard to get to the very end of the meal leaving nothing out, that's why I assemble dishes in small portions. Needless effort...still, second rounds are due and still, everybody manages to get to the end eating everything no matter what. So my theory in these cases is to stick to how it has always been, that's what makes our Christmas a true Christmas. Traditional and abundant. I remember last year being the same and the year before that, really nothing changes except for time that flies and family that grows.
This year I decided to give it a tweak, not a big deal of a change but something slightly different. My entree dish was "Strangolapreti", translated: Priest Chokers. There are several legends to explain this awkward name but the one I find most curious is that once priests were known for their insatiable gluttonous appetite and as they frenetically gobbled down this tasty delicacy they risked to choke, sometimes to death. Self-explanatory indeed! This recipe catched me unprepared for how the few simple and poor ingredients, surprisingly and brilliantly combined, can turn out to be a meal fit for a king.
The original recipe uses a sauce made of melted butter simmered with sage and topped with grated cheese. I wanted to make a cheese sauce and give it a crisp touch with bits of prosciutto speck.
You might want to try this recipe on New Year's, if you do, your 2013 will start in the right direction.
500 gr of stale bread (no more than 3 days old)
400 gr of fresh spinach
300 gr of milk
150 gr of grated grana (or parmesan) cheese
5/6 slices of speck (or prosciutto, or bacon)
200 gr fresh liquid whipping cream
Cut the bread in small pieces and place in a bowl with warm milk until soft. Wash the spinach and place in a pan to simmer with a small amount of butter and a dash of salt. Squeeze the spinach to drain from its juice and finely chop. Squeeze the bread to drain from the milk. By hand, mix the bread with the eggs, the spinach, the grated grana (or parmesan) cheese, some salt and add bread crumbs as needed, just enough to manage the dough. It needs to be soft yet solid.
Cut the speck (you can also use prosciutto or bacon) in thin julienne slices. Place the speck in a non-stick pan without oil. Let it cook to crisp. In the meantime, place the fresh liquid cream in another pan, add the grated cheese and a dash of salt. Let the cheese dissolve in the cream. Keep warm until serving.
Roll the dough in long ropes, and cut in medium size pieces. Bring a large amount of salted water to a boil and gently place the strangolapreti. When they float on the surface, gently pull them from the water with a draining spoon.
Place the strangolapreti in each serving plate, add the cheese sauce and decorate with the speck.