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I travelled the world and then returned to Sannio, my land.

And today I live in my beloved Morcone, in the house where I grew up between the green fields and the mountains that I have always loved. Where I gave birth to my children because I dreamed for them of the same childhood that I lived: without sophistication, in life as in nutrition.

Foto di Anna Maria Mastrantuono

A land of the Sannio furrowed by rivers, moved by hills and valleys, with olive groves, walnut trees and vineyards from which excellent DOC wines are born: Aglianico, Falanghina, etc …

And I certainly cannot say that I have not had the opportunity to get to know the most famous and well-known places. I lived in London and then went to the beautiful Barossa Valley in South Australia (land rich in vineyards and cellars).

I was in Spain at the time of the American’s Cup and in Valencia I worked as a chef for a television crew. It was the time of Luna Rossa and Alinghi, and we were all on the crest of the wave for the emotions that the competition gave us.

Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Riviera Romagnola, Valle d’Aosta … I was lucky enough to have made a long apprenticeship, which allowed me to experiment and understand innovation in the kitchen without forgetting the tradition.

But no more.

When I returned to my town in 2013, it suddenly seemed to me that everything made sense. Leave to return. Go away to bring a new conception to the kitchen to be put into practice in my town, Morcone, but also in the neighbouring towns. Sannio is magnificent and must be rediscovered in a new guise, without betraying the past.

Del Sannio I have always loved the excellent wines that accompany simple recipes, all of the peasant culture, where bread was made at home in large wood-fired ovens with mother yeast and was kept at least a week in the kitchen cupboards. Try the ‘viscotta con i cicoli’, a bread with pieces of fat cracklie pork.

Fresh pasta that was a healthy habit: cavatelli, tagliatelle, corioli, were prepared and seasoned with tomato sauces, vegetables and legumes or magnificent ragù.

Right now I am proud to collaborate with Giuseppe Aquino’s “Caravan Films”, a director who, with his auteur cinema, addresses social issues in aid of the weakest.

Today I will tell you about the discovery with Pasquale Mastrantuono and his Saffron from Matese, who also returned to Sannio, in Sassinoro, after experience abroad.

For this reason I decided to revisit a plate of fresh pasta,presenting it with a modern shape. Even if the stuffed pasta was born with a function of reuse of roast, boiled scraps etc.

To knead the Fagottini I used Saragolla flour, an ancient grain grown in this area since the Kingdom of the two Sicilies. And I celebrated this precious saffron spice in a cream of Matese potatoes, an ancient tuber with compact white paste recently rediscovered.

The secret to using saffron is to soak it the night before with vegetable broth or other liquids. To enhance the taste of saffron, I also put a few pistils in the pasta cooking water, in order to strengthen the fagottino in flavour and colour.

Or you can decide to make the dough with saffron!

Recipe of Fagottini with ragù and caciovallo cheese on saffron potato soup

Ingredients:

For the ravioli pasta:

  • 130 gr of Saragolla flour
  • 70 gr of flour 0
  • 4 eggs
  • Yellow pasta

For the potato soup:

  • 300 gr of Matese black potatoes
  • Shallots
  • Vegetable broth
  • Saffron pistils

For the Marchigiana ragù:

  • 500 gr veal nut of Marche
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stick
  • Half onion
  • Bay leaf
  • A glass of Aglianico wine
  • 30 gr of tomato paste

Preparation of the Ragù di Marchigiana

Chop celery, carrot, onion and brown them with Extra Virgin Olive oil for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the veal of Marche, one of the 5 Italian white breeds, with a knife. For the filling of the dumplings I used the meat that comes from a rustic breed bred extensively and fed only on pasture: a meat of excellent quality.

Add the meat to the vegetable brunoise, brown for another 10 minutes, add salt and pepper. Then blend with the Aglianico wine, evaporate the wine and add the concentrate and bay leaf. Finish cooking with 500 ml of vegetable broth for about 2 hours.

When the ragù is completely cold, add 100 gr of semi-seasoned caciocavallo cheese.

Preparation of the potato soup

Fry the shallots in a pan with high sides and add the potatoes cut into chunks. Then cook with vegetable broth until the potatoes are cooked together with the saffron pistils.

Blend, season with salt and pepper and keep warm in a water bath.

Preparation of the ravioli dough

Take a planetary mixer or mix by hand on a table the flour, the 4 eggs (one whole egg and three yolks) and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. You start to knead until the dough is uniform. Then you can roll it out with a rolling pin.

At this point knead the dough and create squares. At the centre of each square place a small part of the ragù. Then join the edges of the pasta and create some fagottini.

Cook the ravioli in boiling water for 4/5 minutes, drain and place them on a serving plate with the ‘velvety’ potato, some saffron pistils and edible wildflowers.

The dish should be accompanied by a few drops of Aglianico reduction to balance its acidity. The reduction is obtained by evaporating half a litre of wine with red onion, peppercorns and a spoonful of honey, until evaporated and caramelized.

Enjoy your meal!

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