Italy has unfortunately experienced three large earthquakes in the past few months, the latest hitting the town of Norcia in Umbria quite hard. Norcia, like Amatrice (which was severely impacted by the first of the large quakes), is a gastronomic town famed for its butchers and their splendid pork products. Since the Middle Ages, the term “Norcino” has been synonymous with pork butchery and charcuterie (and even historically worked as surgeons). The talented “norcini” would travel around central Italy during the winter months to assist with the slaughter of pigs and the production of salumi.
The term “norcina” in gastronomy can allude to any of the flavours Norcia is famous for: black truffles, prosciutto, cheese, lentils, legumes, mushrooms, farro and saffron. There are two pasta dishes which confusingly are both referred to by the same name, “alla norcina“. The first version of “alla norcina” is made with black truffles, anchovy and olive oil.
The second version is made with a short pasta (penne or strangozzi) with sausage, cream, garlic, onion, white wine and pecorino cheese. In some versions mushrooms are added but then long pasta is substituted. There are other variations on these themes featuring the local ingredients: tagliatelle con salsiccia, fegatini, funghi e tartufo nero (tagliatelle with sausage, chicken livers, mushrooms and black truffles) and tagliatelle con salsiccia e tartufo nero (tagliatelle with sausage and black truffle). Feel solidarity with the affected community by celebrating their culinary traditions. If you want to make a donation, the link to the Italian Red Cross (Croce Rossa Italiana) is: www.cri.it/home
50 mls extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, skin removed and bruised
250 grams sausage, casing removed
400 grams egg tagliatelle
10 grams flat-leaf parsley, rinsed, dried, leaves removed and finely chopped
80-150 grams black truffle (jarred or if fresh, grated)
Black pepper, freshly ground
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
Meanwhile in a frying pan, add the olive oil and the garlic. Heat over medium heat until the garlic is coloured. Discard the garlic.
Add the sausage to the pan and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook until it is coloured, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat off.
Boil the pasta (fresh pasta will take 1 to 3 minutes and for dried pasta, check the package for recommended cooking times). Drain the pasta and add to the sausage. Stir in the parsley, black truffle and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.