It sounds like a command for something that needs urgent attention, perhaps it is, as this is a recipe everybody should have in the repertoire.
We put this dish on the specials board at Moruzzi & Co this week, with a note stating that it wouldn’t be ready until 12.30, fresh out of the oven.
It didn’t hang around long……
As Franco Taruschio former chef & proprietor of the culinary institution that is the Walnut Tree Inn near Abergavenny, states in his book “Leaves From The Walnut Tree”, (which is a timeless classic, and a book every discerning cook/chef should have to hand in the kitchen). A book to be used, spattered, crumpled & lightly stained but used, nonetheless, not gathering dust on a crowded bookshelf, but more on this book later……
Back to Vincisgrassi, Franco states that;
“Vincisgrassi is a speciality of the Marche region of Italy” (where Franco himself comes from). “The story goes that it was named after an Austrian general Windisch Graetz, who was with his troops in Ancona in 1799 during the Napoleonic war. Actually Antonio Nebbia, who wrote a gastronomic manual in 1784, mentioned in his book a similar dish called Princisgras”.
Franco had this dish on the menu at the Walnut Tree for over 20 years, he couldn’t take it off as people would ask for it anyway, probably travelling vast distances after hearing about it, so on the menu it remained.
The dish is the essence of simplicity, reinforcing the age old principles of fabulous top notch ingredients, given a little culinary nudge in the right direction & ending up as something truly amazing. The whole “together is better” and the greater than the sum of its parts type scenario.
A classic Italian recipe for pasta baked with parma ham, Porcini mushrooms and cream. Laced with truffles if you can afford them or a little truffle oil will do.
For the pasta
2 whole eggs and 4 yolks
250g (9oz) farina ‘0’ or plain flour
1 tsp salt
450g (1lb) fresh mushrooms
30g (1¼oz) Porcini mushrooms
25g (1oz) butter, plus more for greasing
2 tbsp chopped parsley
300g (10½oz) parma ham, torn into strips
150g (5½oz) grated Parmigiano Reggiano DOP , plus extra for serving
truffle oil, to serve
For the bechamel
1.2 litres (2 pints) full-fat milk
2 bay leaves
50g (1¾oz) butter
75g (2¾oz) plain flour
200ml (7fl oz) double cream
Make a dough from the pasta ingredients, knead well and roll through a pasta machine as you would for lasagne. Cut the pasta lengths into squares approximately 12.5cm square. Cook the squares in plenty of boiling salted water, a few at a time. Place on linen cloths to drain.
For the sauce. Melt 50gm of the butter, add the flour and blend in well. Add the milk, which has been previously heated, a little at a time, beating well with a balloon whisk. Cook the Porcini & mushrooms in the olive oil and add to the béchamel. Stir in the ham. Add the cream and parsley, season and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat.
To assemble the vincisgrassi. Butter a gratin dish and cover the bottom with a layer of pasta, then spread over a layer of béchamel, dot with butter and sprinkle with some parmesan cheese. Continue the process making layer after layer, finishing with a béchamel layer and a sprinkling of the Parmegiano cheese. Cook in an oven preheated to 200°C/425°F/gas 7 for 20 minutes.