ITALIAN FOOD FROM UMBRIA Chris Smosarski - Founder of The Taste of Umbria
Here are 10 foods I love from Umbria
1. TRUFFLES Umbria is simply rich and ambundant with Truffles and they are used on grilled meats, cheeses, salami, scrambled eggs, with pasta (try black truffle shaved over with an Italian sausage sauce - simply divine) and my favourite of all time a suce made with mushroom and truffle called Tartufata - I'm in heaven when you have Strangozzi with Tartufata sauce.
2. STRANGOZZI If you love pasts the Umbrian pasta called Strangozzi is simply the best to have with a number of delicious sauces such as vegetable sauces, tomato based sauces, ragu and YES YES, Truffles or Tartufata sauce. The name comes from its resemblance to shoe laces - stringhe is Italian for strings!
3. CHEESES I simply love Pecorino & Caciotta Cheese: They range from sweet and creamy to cave-aged and sharp. Umbria has my favourites - Pecorino (sheepís milk) and Caciotta (cowís milk). I remember many a meal with my Aunt Anna nibbling on Caciotta with pear - and washing it down with a lovely glass of dry white wine. Delicious!!
4. CICORIA My favoutite Umbriam green. So nutritious and tasty. Saute it like you would spinach. I prefer it in the traditional way - witk olive oil or lemon or add some fresh chili. Have it as a side dish or for luch with a great piece of bread or in Torta al Testo.
5. TORTA AL TESTO This is a traditional Umbrian flatbread that is made on a round griddle like pan. It may be long associated with the 'Cucina Povera' - 'Poor Kitchen' but it is simply delicious with cheese or meats or served with soups and stews.
6. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL Umbria does not produce masses of extra virgin olive oil but one thing is for sure - it is of the highest quality. Taste and colour depend on the growing area in Umbria and colour ranges from golden yellow to deep green. Drizzle it on salads, cooked vegetables, on soups and for me its simply perect fro dipping your beautiful bread in or on bruschetta.
7. DRIED SAUSAGE (SALSICCIA SECCA) Umbria produces many dried sausages that are slighty smaller than the usual salamis you see. They are lean, air dried, and lightly seasoned. Get some wonderful bread and cheese and a good bottle of Umbrian wine - a meal all in itself!
8 FAGIOLINA DEL TRASIMENO The area of Lago Trasimeno has been growing this nutrient packed bean since Etruscan times. The bean has a nutty flavour and can be used in salads, blended to make a bruschetta topping; added to soups, eaten alone with good extra virgin oilve and seasoning. Umbria also produces other wonderful pulses for soups and stews in addition to Fagiolina del Trasimeno..
9 PORCHETTA This is a roast to die for - savoury, herb-packed boneless pork that you can buy from street stalls and packed with wild fennel from Umbria. Itís flavours are unique and itís also served in many restaurants or cooked at home.
10 CHOCOLATE Yes Umbria has some fanous brands such as Baci made by Perugina but it has a wonderful tradtion for chocolate produced by not so well known brands such as Vannucci and Augusta Perusia. Chocolate covered nougat is also delicious - white with almonds or dark with haselnuts. And much more.
OK MY 11TH - MY CHICKEN RECIPE
Simplicity is the key to Italian food and high quality ingredients. One of my favourite dishes to this day remains roast chicken and potatoes with rosemary and garlic. Then have a mixed, green or rocket salad on the side. I used to eat this dish over and over again when I was at home in Wales and when I lived in Assisi.
It's simple and wonderfully delicious. So the recipe is easy. 1 good quality chicken Potatoes cut into chip shape Lots of rosemary A good 6 cloves of garlic with skin on (I like more so its really up to you - with the skin on do not worry if you think its too much - just experiment). Good extra virgin olive oil
That's it simple.
Put the chicken in a large roasting tin and cover with extra virgin olive oil and lots of the sprigs of rosemary - I tend to pick off the rosemary leaves from the sprig and cover the chicken.
Put in oven to roast. In the meantime cut the potatoes into chip shapes and put in a bowl. Baste with extra virgin olive oil, rosemary leaves and some chopped garlic - do not be shy with the rosemary and garlic. Add some sea salt.
About 50 minutes before the chicken is cooked you can surround the chicken with the potatoes or if the roasting tin is not big enough roast in another warmed up roasting tin. Roast until a golden/crispy colour checking that they do not go too dark and over crispy.
Serve with a side salad - green or mixed or a rocket salad.
And do not forget to have wonderful bread to mop up any juices and the olive oil from the salad!!!
This simple dish is simply delicious - when I lived in Assisi, Umbria, Italy I loved it and when I was in Wales I still loved it and do so to this day!!