Last week James Martin and I chatted about our travels through the Le Marche region and in today’s episode we share the best of the region’s food and local recipes.
The region has a long Adriatic coastline and inland it’s filled with rolling hills, mountains and delightful, curious villages each with their own unique dishes.
Le Marche DOP, IGP and other iconic regional foods
Three of the best pork products from Le Marche
Prosciutto di Carpegna DOP
Many Italians consider this to be the best of all Italian prosciutto. It’s produced in the province of Pesaro-Urbino. There are two variants of this prosciutto: San Leo which has a sweet, delicate flavor, and La Ghianda, with a more intense and aromatic flavor.
Mezzafegato di Fabriano
This salami is also known as salsiccia matta, or crazy sausage. It’s made in the province of Ancona and is usually served with bread or alongside cooked vegetables and potato purée. This salami, or sausage, is usually served freshly made and not aged.
Ciauscolo is a delicious spreadable salami made in the Ascoli Piceno and Macerata provinces. It’s delicious spread on bread, served with salad or used to stuff other local dishes.
Three of the best cheeses from the Le Marche region
Casciotta di Urbino DOP
Supposedly this was one of Michelangelo‘s favorite cheeses that he loved to share with friends. It’s a semi-hard sheep’s cheese, delightful served with bread and salami and a glass of white wine. It’s made in the Pesaro-Urbino province.
Pecorino di Monte Rinaldo
This is another wonderful sheep’s cheese made in Ascoli Piceno. This cheese is aged for three weeks and it’s sometimes flavored with basil, marjoram and other local herbs, figs, black pepper or honey.
This unsalted fresh cheese is made throughout the region. It’s a soft white cheese often served with fresh berries and used to make desserts like crostata.
Tartufo di Acqualagna and tartufo di Sant’Angelo in Vado
Both of these white truffles are wonderful and you’ll find them throughout the Le Marche region. Gioacchino Rossini referred to the Acqualagna truffle as the Mozart of mushrooms and Lord Byron kept one on his desk as he believed it stimulated creativity. The very best are from the Pesaro-Urbino province, from October to December. If you love truffles then you know they are absolutely delightful shaved atop risotto, salads and tagliatelle with butter.
Le Marche‘s top three iconic recipes
In this podcast episode we chat in detail about these three fabulous Le Marche foods and I share my own version of each: an appetizer, a soup and a pasta dish.
Olive ascolane are one of my favorite appetizers: deep-fried, meat-stuffed olives. This appetizer is made using a large meaty olive varietal, the Ascolano Olive. It’s grown in Le Marche and Tuscany, and also in California where the olives are used to produce olive oil.
The first step is to pit the cured olives and then stuff them with a pre-cooked meat filling usually made from a mixture of pork, beef and grated Parmesan cheese, egg yolk, lemon zest and nutmeg. Then the olives are dusted in flour, dipped in beaten eggs and finally breadcrumbs. The olives are then deep-fried in olive or vegetable oil just until golden and served immediately. Olive ascolane freeze well, ideally before deep frying.
This is a luscious fish soup or stew that uses all the delectable local fish found along the Le Marche Adriatic coastline. Once it’s cooked a slice of crusty toasted bread is placed in each bowl and the stew ladled atop the bread. Supposedly this thick fish stew was invented by Ancona fisherman.
This iconic Le Marche region lasagna dish is made with a local ragù sauce of chopped meats, celery, onion, carrots, tomatoes and white wine. The dish dates back to the late 1700s or early 1800s.
My favorite dish from the region: Raguse in Porchetta
This dish is typical in Ancona and it’s usually served as an antipasto or as a second course, often on May 1 or 4 to celebrate the patron saint of the city, San Ciriaco.
The sauce is rich and delicious and made from onion, bayleaf, olive oil, wild fennel, garlic, white wine and tomato sauce. The first step is to rinse the raguse repeatedly in cold water and salt for at least half an hour, or even better for a few hours. The Ancona locals I know always drill a tiny hole on the opposite side of this sea snail so that it’s easier to extract the snail with a toothpick or tiny fork after it’s served, although the recipes I’ve come across online don’t call for this.
So what are raguse? Raguse, also known as murice, or murice spinose, are a local sea snail found along the Adriatic coast. They are meaty and delicious.
Spaccasassi - wild marine fennel
This wild marine fennel is usually served with balsamic vinegar and anchovies. Here's the recipe and lots of information about spaccasassi, an unusual but delicious Le Marche food.
Join me for my weeklong Flavor of Le Marche trip!
If you want to dig deeper into Le Marche's food and wine and experience the region's cathedrals, castles and ancient fortresses, idyllic resorts, many artisans, landscape bursting with flora and fauna, rugged gorges, underground caverns, serene mountain lanes and, of course, picturesque views of the shimmering sea then join this trip. For all its allure Le Marche remains largely undiscovered, and unspoiled, by tourism. (See this introductory video to the region by James Martin) For the traveller in search of an authentic flavor of Italy, Le Marche offers a rare treat. And if you prefer a customized bespoke trip, either weekend or weeklong, I've got you covered: firstname.lastname@example.org
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