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Molise cuisine. The ABC of the products and dishes of the region

A robust and rich cuisine, made of still authentic flavors. It is the gastronomy of Molise, a small region that offers a great variety of products. For the heading on regional traditions today we discover the ABC of Molise cuisine.

CAVATELLI

One of the typical pasta shapes of Molise, then adopted in many regions of southern Italy: the cavatelli are a pasta made from durum wheat semolina and water, to which in some areas is added a bit of boiled potato, with its characteristic elongated shape. It is said that they were invented under the reign of Frederick II, also to satisfy the king's gastronomic needs. They are made by hand "sinking" - as they say in the local dialect - pasta with the pressure of the index and the middle. Usually they are seasoned with meat sauce or sauce based on pork, or with vegetables like cardoncelli or broccoli, which in Molise everyone calls "spigatelli". In Montenero di Bisaccia the typical dish of the town are the cavatelli, here called "cuzzutilli", with the Ventricina di Montenero.


CAPRINO from Montefalcone nel Sannio

Goat's cheeses are widespread throughout the region, thanks to the presence of wild-bred garments. The goat cheese of Montefalcone del Sannio, in the province of Campobasso, produced with raw milk from the local indigenous breed, is particularly renowned. It is a semi-hard cheese, has a compact and wrinkled rind, while the inside is white and soft. It is put to age using a special wooden tool called cascerache hanging from the ceiling: here the goats age for at least two months. This is also a cheese that is eaten mainly fresh, spread on bread or accompanied by local vegetables and jams.


CACIOCAVALLO of AGNONE

Cheese with ancient origins, produced in the territory of the towns of Agnone, Capracotta and Vastogirardi, in the province of Isernia, since the time of Magna Graecia. Made with raw cow's milk, it has a hard crust and a straw-yellow color, which tends to brown in more aged products. After a maturation lasting about 20 days, it is left to mature in natural caves for a minimum of three months. It has a delicate taste that becomes increasingly spicy and sapid with seasoning: Molisans often eat it grilled, accompanied by local bread.


SOPPRESSATA of MOLISE


Produced in the municipalities of Rionero Sannitico, Macchiagòdena, Montenero di Bisaccia and Castel del Giudice, provinces of Isernia and Campobasso, the soppressata molisana is a salami made with pork loin and capocol with the addition of small amounts of lard. The meat, cut by hand, is stuffed into the gut washed and flavored with spices, then put under weights for a couple of days. Once removed from the press, the soppressata is hung in ventilated rooms where there is a chimney that will dry it and give a slight smoking. At this point the seasoning begins which will last for about five months, after which the salami is ready to be consumed immediately, or cut into small pieces and stored in glass jars with some sugna.


VENTRICINA


One of the most famous meats of Molise, the ventricina, produced throughout the province of Campobasso and in particular in Montenero di Bisaccia. In the local tradition the noble parts of the pig were cut into coarse pieces and stuffed into the animal's belly. Today they use thighs, loin, shoulders and also a part of hard fat, seasoned with salt, wild fennel, pepper and pepper powder. Once stuffed, the meat is pressed, obtaining balls that vary between two and three kilos. These are hung to dry for a week in a room with the fireplace lit. The maturing lasts for six or seven months in general, but can even take up to a year and a half. In this case the ventricina is sprinkled outside the molten lard so that the meat is protected from the heat of the summer months.


STRACCIATA

Spun paste dough produced with cow's milk in the towns of Agnone, Capracotta, Carovilli and Vastogirardi, in the province of Isernia. Its name derives from tearing, the action necessary to form this elongated cheese. It has a pure white color, has no crust and has a sweet and delicate taste, with intense aromas and hints of fresh milk. It is consumed immediately, or after a few days, when it becomes spreadable. Along with raw ham, it is the typical hors d'oeuvre of Molise festivals, particularly linked to weddings.


GUANCIALE


Also called vrucculare or vrucculeare, the guanciale is a very common product in the Molise territory. The triangular shape derived from that of the pig's cheek, which is seasoned in the outer part with salt, pepper, garlic and diavolillo pepper. Once the jowl has been seasoned, a hole is made on the vertex and hung with string on a wooden pole: for a month or so it must remain in an enclosed space, with a fireplace where it constantly burns oak wood. After this time the pork cheek still ages for two months in the open air. It has a more characteristic flavor than the bacon and a more tenacious consistency, a slight hint of smoking and a final spicy tip. The Molisani eat it accompanied by slices of bread, after having lightly heated it, but it is also used in the kitchen for numerous preparations such as sauces for fresh pasta, as a condiment for stuffed pasta, in stews and for second courses pork based.


FUSILLI


Not many people know that fusilli are a pasta form of Molise. They were created in Molise and spread first in southern Italy, then in the rest of the country. Made with durum wheat flour, water and a pinch of salt, they are then rolled up on a piece of wire and left to dry. In some cases pasta is also made with eggs. There are many variations of fusilli: those from Avellino, for example, are more elongated and narrow. In other areas, spinach, beetroot or squid ink are added to color them. A typical regional recipe is fusilli alla Molise, seasoned with a sauce of lamb or with a sauce of mixed meat (lamb, veal and pork sausage).


TRUFFLE - The King


Far from any kind of contamination and pollution, the truffles of Molise are much appreciated both in Italy and abroad. In the Molise valleys there are many different types: the precious white truffle, for example, is typical of the inland areas of the provinces of Isernia and Campobasso, in particular around Carovilli, S. Pietro Avellana, Boiano and Capracotta. A truffle with a smooth and slightly velvety outer rind, while inside the pulp is yellow-ocher or hazelnut white. Typical of the drier areas are the uncinate truffle and the scorzone. The hooked truffle is black with warts in the shape of a pyramid, while the pulp, first whitish, becomes hazelnut or brown as the truffle matures. The scorzone, or summer truffle, has a black rind and a globose shape. The pulp varies from light brown to brown with different white veins. In the kitchen they are used in different preparations, from fresh pastries to second courses, even up to desserts.

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