When we were in southern Tuscany recently, we enjoyed (among many things!) the special hand-made non-egg pasta of the region called pici (or pinci). These are long spaghetti-like strands, thicker than spaghetti. They were originally hand-made, with water, flour and a dash of olive oil. The pasta is rolled out in a less than half-inch sheet, and then cut into small cubes. The cubes are flattened, and then rolled out first by the heel of the hand, and then fingers, until one gets a long round strip, like spaghetti, maybe nine inches long and about one-quarter inch in diameter.
This lovely, slightly chewy pasta is generally served with a strong ragu, duck or lamb primarily. It is just a special treat as a change-of-pace pasta base.
We brought back a pound of pinci that we purchased in Montalcino, and last night we broke it our of the pantry and enjoyed a wistful return to Tuscany.
For the sauce we made a wonderful lamb ragu, which we modestly call "the best lamb ragu ever". We will provide the ragu recipe in our next post.
If one wants to make the pinci from scratch, Giuliano Bugialli, in "Bugialli on Pasta" gives the best directions. We found that we could buy the pasta on-line at www.igourmet.com.
The best lamb ragu ever coming next!