Lining the back of my fireplace, or camino, are two iron plaques: one is of a griffin, the symbol of Cannara and also Perugia (which makes sense, as we live in the town of Cannara in the Province of Perugia...); the other, however, is the image of a large ship (like an Argosy...or a Clipper... or maybe a Galleon.... ship identification is not my area of expertise...), which I would like to believe is maybe the symbol of some other province, and placed there as an homage to the seafaring life that person had lived before transferring to land-locked Umbria. From my 6 minutes of research that my infant and toddler allowed my to complete, I found that both Rimini and Savona have ships as their symbols. The one from Savona looks a little a bit more like my ship, but I will have to investigate this further (which means getting the gossip from some of my older neighbors) at a later time.
So, in honor of the nautical side of my fireplace, I decided to make Zuppa di Pesce con Pasta alla Chitarra (Fish Soup with pasta made on the Chitarra), a dish from Abruzzo. Cooking this slowly in the fireplace gave the soup an even richer flavor. Here is the recipe:
- In a terracotta pot (if you have one, otherwise enameled cast iron or a heavy bottomed stainless steel pot will work as well), heat extra-virgin olive oil with chopped onion, carrots, celery, a few whole garlic cloves, a few hot peppers, and 2 bay leaves. Cook until the onions are translucent.
- Add shellfish and cook in the oil until the shells start to darken
- Add small whole fish and squid cut into rings
- Deglaze with a glass of red wine (that's right red)
- Add crushed or pureed tomatoes to cover by about an inch and season well with salt
- Simmer for about 15-20 minutes
- With a strainer, remove the fish from the sauce, set aside in a warm place
- Add hot salted water to the sauce - this will depending on how much your sauce has reduced, but you will probably need at least a liter, bring to a rolling simmer
- Add your Chitarra (recipe to follow) and cook for about 10 minutes, the sauce should reduce almost completely
- Serve the pasta alongside the fish and enjoy with a glass of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo!
Pasta alla Chitarra
- on a wooden cutting board, make a well with 300g semolina flour, 100g AP flour, and 4 whole eggs
- mix together and knead until smooth, about 15 minutes
- let rest for 45-60 minutes
- divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll out into rectangular sheets 3-5mm high
- place a sheet of dough over the chitarra, and pressing firmly, roll over the dough with a pin until the pasta is cut by the strings of the chitarra
- toss with semolina flour and cover with a towel until ready to use