The Food and Cuisine of Marche
Marche’s location is ideal for fresh seafood and harvesting food from the land. Marche cuisine makes use of the best of each in their dishes. While Marche recipes use the ever present pecorino cheese, olive oil and unsalted bread, they are also influenced by other local regions. Emilia Romagna’s fresh pasta and preserved pork products are found here. Vincisgrassi is a layered dish with lasagne noodles, chicken livers and giblets, veal brains, ham and mushrooms with béchamel sauce, Parmesan cheese and ideally white truffles, if they are in season. Tender pockets of pasta are filled with a parsley and ricotta mixture and served with sole cooked with tomatoes and white wine in ravioli ai filette di sogliola. Lumachelle, a cheese flavored egg pasta, is made into a favorite soup called minestra di lumachelle.
Other popular soups in Marche cuisine include minestra di trippa, a tripe soup served with battuto, an herb flavored pork fat. Brodetto, or fish soup, is eaten further along the coast. This may contain any number of types of fish and are often seasoned with vinegar, garlic or saffron and thickened with flour. Several classic seafood combinations are very popular. Potacchio includes white wine, tomato, onion and rosemary with lemon juice. Alla marinara stews the seafood in tomato sauce and gratinati al forno broils the fish in the oven. Porchetta combines cured pork, such as pancetta or prosciutto, wild fennel, rosemary and garlic with seafood and spices.
Dishes featuring other seafoods are also enjoyed. Mussels are stuffed with ham, bread crumbs and parsley before roasting in tomato sauce to make muscioli arrosto. Dried cod, tomatoes and carrots are cooked in garlic and rosemary flavored sauce made with olive oil, white wine, and milk for stocco all’anconetana.
Marche recipes cover a wide range of meats, from their herds of beef and lamb, free range poultry and pork, rabbits and game birds. Ground beef and bone marrow are mixed with cheese, spinach, breadcrumbs and eggs before forming a paste and shaping into noodles. These are served as pasta or in broth. Quail, salt pork, peas and tomatoes are braised in white wine for quaglie in tegame.
Often the meat and seafoods are cooked in similar ways in Marche cooking. For example, fish may be prepared in potacchio, but pollo in potacchio braises young chicken in the same white wine based onion and tomato sauce. Sea snails are cooked in porchetta, and anatra in porchetta stuffs duck with wild fennel, garlic and salt pork before roasting.
Marche’s variety of salumi is quite extensive. They lay claim to the origin of porchetta. Ciauscolo, a sausage eaten by spreading on bread, is made around Macerata. Carpegna’s prosciutto is an especially well known food.
Marche cuisine featuring dishes with fresh vegetables, such as greens, zucchini and peas, are eaten in season. Olives are stuffed with a bread, cheese and meat filling before being deep fried. Marche cooking takes advantage of dried lentils and beans to eat all year long in soup. Minestra di ceci simmers chick peas with pork ribs and tomatoes in an herb broth. It is served over toast with grated pecorino cheese.
Pecorino from Marche is eaten while relatively young and mild in Marche recipes. It is used frequently in focaccia and pizza. Formaggio di fossa is a rare cheese from Talamello, made from sheep and cow milk. It is wrapped in cloth and buried in pits to age.
Marche cooking often uses cheese in sweet dessert dishes. Ascioli’s calcioni are pocket shaped pastries made with fresh pecorino. Macerata’s piconi is made with ricotta and flavored with cinnamon and rum. Acona’s beccute, raisin and nut biscuits, and frustenga, dried fruit and walnut cake, are both made with cornmeal.
Oliva Ascolana del Piceno PDO, Lenticchia di Castelluccio di Norcia PGI
Casciotta d’Urbino PDO
Fresh & Cured Meats:
Prosciutto di Carpegna PDO, Vitellone Bianco dell’Appennino Centrale PGI, Mortadella Bologna PGI