|Pici (Tuscan Pasta)
This pasta is one of the oldest dishes in Tuscan cuisine. The ingredients can be easily found in all farm families.
Pici, especially dressed with a breadcrumb sauce, was the resource that housewives fell back on when they had to cook for a numerous family. They used whatever they had in the house, including wheat flour, milk, salt, and an egg (sometimes) and lots of elbow grease.
I say sometimes an egg, because whether or not to use an egg to make pici is not a gastronomically matter, it’s a social debate.
I remember in fact that my grandmother, a housekeeper of a certain reputation and with a large family, would be indignant about this argument, saying that eggs were reserved for Sunday, the day we ate tagliatelle (egg noodles), whereas pici were made of water, flour and elbow-grease, referring to the action of working the dough.
Well, for the sake of convenience and in the hopes that my grandmother won’t be upset we will use the following pici recipe :
Ingredients for 10 people:
2.2 pounds of flour
Pinch of salt
Put the flour on a baking board and form a volcanic crater in the middle. Add the water, salt, egg and mix well, then knead until the dough is smooth and silky. Constantly sprinkle flour on the baking board so the dough will not stick.
Once done, the pici dough should be similar to bread or pizza dough. Slice it into strips of about 2X10 cm. and work with the palm of the hands to form irregular-shaped spaghetti.
This is an seemingly complex operation, but it is easier to make pici than to explain the procedure. Once you know how to make pici, you will be certain of preparing an exclusive dish, because it is impossible to find a fresh pasta store in your city that sells this product, which cannot be produced by machine.
Pici alone are not tasty, but if they're well made, they're capable of absorbing sauces and enhancing their flavours. Many sauces go well with pici-the best known are duck sauce, rabbit sauce, meat sauce, mushroom sauce, etc. We will consider two tasty and simple dishes, pici with a breadcrumb sauce and pici with a garlic sauce. – Chef Luciano Benucci, Palazzo Bandino, Chianciano, Italy