Good folk of Bishop Auckland and County Durham, very sad not to be at your food festival this year, please find below my recipe for Pici and Mortadella. It’s one of mine and Meri’s favourite comfort dishes. If you can’t find any mortadella, I dare say a bit of spam or corned beef wouldn’t harm!
This dish is a simple plate of handmade Pici pasta, a little butter, thyme, finely chopped mortadella, pecorino and a little honey to cut through this thick, fatty mantle that coats the fresh pasta. Pici may seem like a weird choice for the sauce as the mortadella has very little chance of getting a firm hold onto the dough, but the rather nice thing is that each strand is coated in a delicate emulsion of butter infused with the earthy mortadella and accompanying flavours. What you are left with at the end is a satisfying little pile of buttery meat that slaps you round the face.
For the dead simple pasta part:
150g 00 flour
150g fine semolina (optional, but will give your pasta more bite)
180g egg yolk (save the whites for meringues or rocky style gym fuel)
For the sauce/emulsion
20 Pistachio, shelled and crushed as fine as you can be bothered (30 to make up for the 10 you will invariably eat)
2 Sprigs of fresh thyme
1 Tablespoon of honey
30g good breadcrumbs (avoid the day glow fish finger kind)
10g of butter
Half and onion
A little finely chopped mortadella
1/3rd of a block of pecorino cheese (or any hard-Italian cheese)
- Today we are making PICI. Think relatively long, slightly fat/thin mis-shapen spaghetti you do by hand. It rocks. Start by combining the flour and semolina in a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the egg yolks. Use a fork and bring the flour into the egg and mix well. If the mix is too dry add a tiny bit of water just until it comes together.
YOU WANT TO MAKE A DOUGH SIMILAR IN LOOK AND FEEL TO PLAYDOUGH
- Once this is done, form into a nice square or round and dust with flour. Cling film and leave in the fridge for minimum half an hour.
- When the dough is rested, tear grape sized balls off (keep the dough covered) and roll onto a clean surface (if you dust them or your hands in more flour, it won’t work) You want to create long, knobbly worms (think like a long spaghetti Nick-Nack)
- Once all the dough is done, let these dry a little while you do the sauce
- Very finely mince the onion and sweat it in the butter and olive oil until translucent. add half the leaves of the thyme and half the thinly sliced/fine chopped mortadella and cook on a low heat.
- Bring water to the boil in a saucepan, remember to salt the water well, and add your pasta for 5-6 minutes.
- Remove the pasta and pop straight into the pan, retaining one cup of that pasta water elixir.
- Keep the pasta moving, add half the pistachio and grate as much cheese as you fancy, add some of the pasta water to form a sauce and a little black pepper.
- Using a fork, twist the picci into a tight ball and place in a bowl, finish with more fresh mortadella, thyme, pistachio and the breadcrumbs, drizzle of olive oil,
- Now you are done.