A lasagna? No. No. Seven layers of hand-rolled pasta are dipped in bechamel and topped with an old-fashioned sauce. This is a traditional Sunday dish that grandmothers all over the country make. The vincisgrassi was born somewhere between Ancona, Macerata, at the end of the eighteenth-century. Tourists (especially foreigners), are now asking for them more often.
The vincisgrassi traditional recipe
For every one kilo flour, eight eggs are required to make puff pastry. There is no water. It is made from the Italian rural tradition. This dough ensures unique porosity, consistency and quality. The sauce is what makes Vincisgrassi different from lasagna. The sauce for Vincisgrassi includes all types of mixed meats from the farmyard (yes, even chicken giblets!). Traditional ingredients for this recipe include chicken, pork, chicken, rabbit, and duck. Minced beef is prohibited. Because the vergare – an ancient dialect term that used to refer at the time to ‘housewives – would only use what was available in the courtyard. You’ll first saute the onion, celery, and carrot in large pieces. Next, add the chopped meat and brown it. Finally, pour in some white wine to enhance the flavor. After the wine has cooled, add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, and enough water to cover. Bring it to boil by covering with a lid. Slow cooking is another key to this dish. The sauce will be ready when you have about a third of it left.
The last touch? Chicken giblets
It is important to add the giblets after the sauce has been cooked. The ragout’s flavor will be evident at this stage. The sauce should be liquid, free from any odors or bones. To make Vincisgrassi you will need at least seven layers puff pastry. These must be placed on top of each other and then topped with the sauce and bechamel (made with milk, butter, and a little flour). You can also add grated cheese to your taste, (in tradition it was sheep’s milk ricotta mixed), especially the last layer. Place in the oven for 30 minutes at 200°C.
These are the top spots to find vincisgrassi at Macerata (where it is called ‘princisgras’).
One restaurant in Macerata has made the Vincisgrassi their flagship dish: the Osteria located in the historic centre of town. It was founded in 1980 by the Carducci brothers (Iginla Letizia, Paolo). You’ll also find the Princisgras here, a recipe taken from a 1779 cookbook and considered a more cultural version of the vincisgrassifrom the Marche. The princisgras is a gastronomic treasure, traditionally served to the eighteenth century nobility. Later, the more accessible version was made with the addition of tomato. Chef Iginla Carducci says that tourists arrive knowing both the dishes and the ingredients. “An English gentleman asked recently for the corner portion of the pan. The corner is where the crust is crispier and more delicious. It’s creamy deliciousness in the middle of the pan.
Osteria Dei Fiori, Macerata serves the original recipe, which dates back to the 1779 cookbook. The princisgrassi was probably invented before the vincisgrassi. If you are curious, we have translated the recipe below. Warning: These measurements may seem a bit confusing and out of date.
Take half a pound prosciutto and cut it into small pieces. Add four ounces finely sliced truffles. Next, take a small carton of milk and a half. Then, add three ounces of flour to a saucepan and heat it with the prosciutto. Let it boil for at least half an hour. You will then add half a pound fresh cream to the mixture, stirring it constantly until it thickens. Make a tagliolini dough by adding two eggs and four yolks to the mixture. Roll it out into a thin, but not too large shape (similar to Neapolitan Mostaccioli). Add the pasta to a mixture of 1/2 broth, 1/2 water and season with salt. To prevent the sauce from boiling while baking in the oven, use the pasta dough to line the casserole baking dish. After boiling the pasta, cover it with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Next, start layering: the sauce, butter, cheese, and then another layer of pasta. Continue this process until all ingredients are used. To get the golden-brown crust, make sure the final layer is made with a mixture of butter and Parmigiano sauce. (Antonio Nebbia, Il Cuoco Maceratese)