Christmas Italian Recipes

Ilaria D'Onofrio Program Assistant, Rome Center

Date

December 6, 2018

You can truly feel the Christmas atmosphere pervading around Rome and the whole Italian country at the beginning of December. Christmas lights which make our night brighter, joyful Christmas songs all over our radio to cheer up our mood, Christmas markets on weekends which make our streets more colorful and plenty of advertisement posters about sales for Christmas shopping. This Saturday, 8th of December, will even be the Immacolata Festivity, the day when Christians celebrate the Virgin Mary who miraculously gave birth to Jesus, and it has also become the day when people traditionally gather together with their own families and make a Christmas Tree in their houses. As you have already learned by now, a celebration in Italy usually means having a big homemade meal to share with parents and relatives. Therefore, we would like to share with you some traditional and delicious Italian dishes recipes, typical of Christmas holiday, that you can easily recreate in your house.


CANEDERLI ALLO SPECK (DUMPLINGS WITH SPECK)

A typical regional recipe of Trentino Alto Adige, where it is actually called Knodel. It is a very ancient popular dish, prepared for the first time around 1180. The main food used to make them is stale bread, and they are perfect to be cooked with tomato souse or in meat broth, while Speck is a typical Italian a dry-cured and lightly smoked ham.

Ingredients (for 8 Canederli):
250 gr of Stale bread
150 gr of Speck
2 eggs
250 ml of milk
1 onion
25 gr of butter
30 gr of flour
1 l of broth
Chive
Parsley
Salt and pepper

Procedure:
Mince the onion and brown it in a pan with the butter. When the onion is wilted, add the speck cut into small cubes and brown them for a few minutes. Cut the bread into cubes of about half a centimeter, put them in a bowl together with the dried onion and the speck and then mix them. In another bowl mix the eggs together with the milk, chopped parsley and chives. Add salt and pepper and pour the eggs into the mixture of bread, speck and onion. Do not overdo the salt because the speck is already tasty. Mix the dough with your hands and add a little flourm and vary the quantity of flour based on the softness of the dough you want to obtain. With wet hands, start forming your dumplings, rolling up the mixture with the palms of your hands in order to give them the meatball shape. Keep doing it until you finish your dough. Boil some water in a pot and cook your dumplings for about 15 minutes. Once cooked, bring them to the table with the hot meat broth.

BACCALà FRITTO (FRIED COD)

This dish is a must in various Christmas meal all over the Italian country side, even though the majority of people say that it has its origins in Rome, where you can eat this type of food all days of the year.
To prepare this in the right way, you have to be very careful while you are making the Pastella (batter) and the Friggitura (the moment when you are frying the fish fillets). We advise you to use rice flour for the first and peanut oil for the second.

Ingredients (4 people):
500 gr of Cod fillets
200 gr of rice flour
200 ml of water
Herbs garden
Peanut oil

Procedure:
Cut the cod into pieces and dry them with a cloth. In a bowl mix together water, herbs and flour. Stir until the batter is formed and has no lumps. Bring the oil to the right temperature in a frying pan with high sides and begin to dip the pieces of cod in the batter. As soon as you soak them, put them to fry in the hot oil and turn them with a skimmer to allow a uniform cooking and extract them when they become beautifully golden. Serve the hot and steaming fried cod to your guests.

PANDOLCE

A typical Genovese dessert, known by English people as Genoa Cake and is similar to the Italian Panettone.

Ingredients:
85 gr of butter at room temperature
100 gr of sugar
1 egg
300 gr of flour
230 gr of raisins
80 gr of candied oranges
80 gr of candied citron
80 ml of milk
10 gr of baking powder
20 gr of pine nuts
A pinch of salt

Procedure:
Starting with cutting the oranges and citron into little cubes, and then cut the butter. Put together into a bowl the butter, the sugar, the sifted flour and the baking powder. Then add in the same bowl the egg and salt and start kneading. While you are working on the dough, add the milk very slowly and when it has been absorbed, add the candied fruits, the raisins and the pine nuts. Then keep kneading for about 10 minutes to mix all ingredients. Transfer your dough on a pastry board and give it a circular flattened shape, until you obtain a circle of 10 inches and 3 inches thick. Then put the Pandolce in a baking tin already lined with parchment and decorate the surface with a sharp blade, creating the classic small diamonds drawings on its top. Finally, bake the dough for 45-50 minutes in a preheated oven at 160°C.