This is a lovely recipe, one that’s just so ideal to share with friends. I cook this in a large pan that goes from hob to oven, and straight onto table. Serve with a deep red wine or a crispy fresh white one in Summer, a couple of farmhouse cheese chunks for afters… Great company, and let the good times roll!
120g Pine Nuts
220g Pancetta Agl’Aromi di Falorni, in thin-ish slices
500g Pomodorini di Pachino [or any other cherry tomatoes, if the Pachino ones are not in season]
700g good quality Maltese Sausage [Naxxar’s Victory Butcher has some really lean and well-seasoned Maltese sausage. I like to use the peppery pork ones for this dish.]
800g Lumache Pasta di Gragnano di Pastificio dei Campi
300g Taleggio cheese
200g Parmigiano di Montagna
Salt, Pepper, Falorni’s Aroma Speciale per Arrosti
Roast pine nuts in dry pan until just golden. Set aside. Place pancetta slices in hot, dry pan and cook until coloured on both sides. Set aside on kitchen paper. Repeat with rest of pancetta slices. [Once pancetta cools, it should be crispy, brittle.] You are now left with lovely, melted pancetta fat in the pan. You’re using this fat to cook the rest of the dish in.
In the meantime, put a large pot of well-salted water on the fire. Cut the Maltese sausage in approx 2cm lengths, removing the skin in the process and rolling the sausage meat into balls, so that you end up with little sausage-meatballs. With a hand-blender, process around 6 or 8 garlic cloves with olive oil until smooth. Half the pomodorini.
Cook the sausage balls until browned all over. Add pomodorini. Season with salt, pepper and Falorni’s Aroma Speciale per Arrosti. Add garlic oil. Toss well until pomodorini are cooked through and slightly softened.
Pasta must be three-quarter’s of the way through its cooking time by now. Using slotted spoon, pick lumache straight from the pot into the pan and finish its cooking in the sausage and pomodorini mix, adding hot water from the pot as necessary. Add grated Parmigiano di Montagna. Toss and mix very well. You should have a smooth consistency, one that’s not too runny but neither dry.
Pan off the fire, top pasta mix with slices of taleggio, pine nuts and roughly-broken, crispy pancetta slices. Place under a hot grill, just until the taleggio melts. Place at table centre immediately, and let everyone serve themselves at leisure. Heavenly!
Know Your [Gragnano] Pasta
From as early as the 1500s, the comune di Gragnano, in the heart of Italy’s Campania region, has been considered home to the best air-dried pasta in Italy. Gragnano’s via Roma was even re-designed to maximise its sunny areas, which favoured the drying of the pasta. The art of making pasta from durum wheat was handed down from generation to generation for centuries, right up to the present day. Today, pasta di Gragnano is famous the world over and has an IGP recognition, which guarantees the origin and quality of the product, and, in the case of Gragnano Pasta, it also testifies a secular tradition.
For pasta di Gragnano to be IGP recognised it must be produced in the city of Gragnano and made solely from durum wheat and from water of the local water-bearing layer. The production process involves the extrusion through bronze frames. This process is synonymous with quality because it creates a roughness in the pasta that lets sauces adhere to the pasta better. Bronze frames, which give the pasta a whitish colour, are difficult to use and slow down the entire pasta production process. The next step of production is the drying process, at a temperature between 40 and 80°C for a period of between 6 and 60 hours, depending on the pasta shape, in static cells to drain or in tunnels where the hot air is circulated. Once dried, Gragnano Pasta is allowed to cool and is wrapped within 24 hours, without it being carried to allow a perfect preservation of the product.
Pasta di Gragnano IGP must be packed in cardboard boxes or transparent plastic bags, made of vegetable or other recyclable material, as allowed by EU rules.