Elba cuisine

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The cuisine of Elba: a mix of the tastes of the land and sea

RISOTTO WITH SEPIA
Clean 600/700 grams of cuttlefish, taking care not to break the “black” (ink) glands, which should be kept separate. Cut the cuttlefish into little pieces and chop the tentacles finely. Fry a little onion in a glass of olive oil, and when this is slightly withered, add the pieces of squid and the chopped “tentacles”. Let it simmer for a few minutes, then add a glass of white wine. When the wine has evaporated, add 500 grams of peeled and liquidised tomatoes, parsley and chopped garlic, chilli pepper and salt and let it cook well. Dilute with a cup of water when necessary. The sauce must remain fairly liquid for the rice to cook in. When the cuttlefish is cooked, add the rice and sepia from the ink glands and stir well. Should the sauce become too dense while the rice is cooking, add a few tablespoons of broth. Squids can be used in this dish instead of cuttlefish.

OCTOPUS WITH CACCIATORA SAUCE
In local cuisine, the octopus is not beaten before cooking: even the biggest are very tender when fresh. Chop the octopus (a 1/1.2 kg octopus, or little octopuses) into pieces if large, leave them whole if small (luglierini). Chop a large onion into quite thick rings and when they are lightly fried, add the pieces of octopus and let it simmer, adding a glass of wine. When the wine has evaporated, add two or three peeled, chopped tomatoes and a small amount of chilli pepper. Let it cook slowly in a covered saucepan. Check the level of salt before adding, as octopus does not need much salt. Cook for thirty minutes, adding a little hot water when necessary. The sauce (the cacciatora) must be well thickened.

FRIED AND PICKLED PICARELS
Ingredients: ½ litre of vinegar, ¼ litre of white wine, 5 or 6 cloves of garlic, a little rosemary, chilli pepper, salt as required. It is best to use small picarels with tender scales which can be eaten. Picarels do not need the scales removing or cleaning, but are merely floured and fried in a lot of olive oil, sprinkled with salt and served while still very hot and crunchy. Any leftovers can be pickled and preserved for a long time. This is how to pickle picarels: the fired fish are placed in high container, glass or ceramic for preference. Vinegar and wine are boiled with salt, garlic, rosemary and ginger for a few minutes, and left to cool down before the picarels are put in it. The mix should be left to “mature” for a few days before eating.

STUFFED SQUIDS
Ingredients: three squids of at least 300 grams each, 2 eggs, 70 grams of parmesan cheese, onion, parsley, garlic, slices of bread softened with milk, 500 grams of tomatoes, salt, chilli pepper, oil.
Preparation: simmer the talons in a cup of oil and, when cooked, chop them as finely as possible. Place them in a casserole, adding two whole eggs, chopped parsley and chopped garlic, one slice of bread softened by boiling in a cup of milk and 70 grams of grated parmesan. Mix the filling well and add salt to taste. Fill the squids with the filling, taking care not to fill them too much, as they would split when cooking if overfilled, and cook whole. Prepare a little chopped onion in a cup of oil and let it simmer. As soon as the onion starts to go golden in colour, add the chilli pepper, the peeled tomatoes chopped into large pieces, chopped parsley and chopped garlic and salt. Let the mix cook for about twenty minutes and then add the stuffed squids, which must be immersed in the sauce. Add a little hot water if required. Let it cook over a low flame. When the squids are cooked, let them cool a little and slice them. Cover the slices in the sauce which has been boiling in the meantime.

FIG JAM
Ingredients: 2 kg of ripe sweet figs, 1 kg of sugar, a pinch of cinnamon.
Preparation: peel the figs, add half of the figs to the sugar, adding enough water to cover everything, let it boil for ten minutes, add the remaining half of the peeled figs and cook for about another twenty minutes.

LEMON MARMALADE
Ingredients: 18 lemons, sugar, water.
Preparation: prick the whole lemons with a fork, place them in a receptacle with fresh water and let them rest for three days, changing the water twice every day. Cut the lemons into very thin slices and remove the seeds. Weigh the slices of lemon. Place the slices previously cut into a casserole and weigh, adding an amount of water equal to half the weight of the sliced lemon. After cooking for ten minutes, add the same weight as the sliced lemons of sugar. Cook stirring the mixture regularly until it reaches the right consistency, then liquidise half of the mixture, remixing it with the other half and put it into a warm jar.

LIMONCINO (lemon liquor made with Sant’Andrea lemons)
Ingredients: 1 litre of alcohol, 900 grams of water, 800 grams of sugar, 5 lemons (peel only).
Preparation: let the lemon peel soak in the alcohol for five days. Boil the water and dissolve the sugar in it, let it cool, add the lemon peel and alcohol it has soaked in for five days, filter and bottle.

SCHIACCIA BRIACA
This is a sweet made with a dry mix, with a little yeast, without eggs and with pine nuts, raisins, dried fruit and honey. The preparation process does not use yeast or animal fats, and this makes it suitable for preservation, ideal for the islanders who went to sea. The addition of sweet Aleatico wine, which makes the mix slightly soft and gives it its characteristic reddish colour, is a variation from the nineteenth century which made the sweet more palatable to the gentry of the times. The addition of alkermes is more recent, giving it a redder colour.

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