Piglia tre pani he levali la crosta he gratali molto bene he metteli supra una tavola, he metteli atorno una libra he meza de bona farina; he mete cum lo dito pane quatro ho cingue oca he batile bene cum lo cultello risguardando sempre lo pane cum la dita farina; he quando te parirache sia minuto como (f* 8r) anesi confetti, pone ogni cosa in uno sedazo he cacia fora la farina; poi falli secare alo sole ho alo focho; et quando li vorai cocere, coceli in brodo de carne, he fallo ghialdo cum saffrono; he falle bullire adasio per spacio de meza hora; et mette de sopra le menestre caso he specie.
Take the crusts of three loaves of bread. grate them, set this on a table and lay out a pound of and a half of fine flour around it; and put five eggs in with the ground bread and beat that well with a knife, always being careful (to coat) the breadcrumbs well with the flour; and when you have lumps that look to you to be the size of candies aniseed, put everything into a sieve and discard the (excess) flour; then dry them in the sun or by the fire. When you want to cook them, use meat broth made yellow with saffron; boil them gently for half an hour, serve them up garnished with cheese and spices.
The book commentary says “think ditallini.” I disagree. I think “couscous.”
This is about the easiest recipe I have made to date, but it relies on a couple of factors. Use of a food processor is extremely helpful for ease of production.
I saved the crusts from several loaves, and staled them in a low oven while it was cooling from making some other dishes. I crushed them and processed them, then ran them through a coarse strainer to make sure they were of a size.
The first time I made this, I worked from the proportions in the book. Knowing I had 5 eggs of indeterminate size and a pound and a half (not modern pounds! only 12 oz lb, so 18 oz in modern parlance) of flour, I started with a half pound of bread crumbs. There was a lot of tweaking, as I made this dish on dry days and more humid days, and each time the proportions changed. Be prepared to add more eggs or flour, but do not add more breadcrumbs, as the addition will become gummy and harder to recover.
After several batches, the following numbers are pretty reliable in a medium processor, and result in both a quantity that comfortably fits an oven and that feeds 4 people an ample portion.
1 c (150g) home made breadcrumbs (I do not suggest commercial, they have quite an ingredient list)
3 eggs, about 150g to coat, a fourth in reserve for in case.
1/2 c (100g) farina, fine semolina, or other very fine low gluten flour, as needed.
To serve the dish, I needed
about a half gallon of nice broth, or a quart of stock. This is most of the flavor in the dish, so if it tastes good the dish will as well.
Saffron if you like it (I like it!)
4 oz ricotta, farmers cheese, queso fresco, or other creamy new cheese
1 tablespoon Spices as you prefer. I chose black pepper, canela, and clove.
Place the breadcrumbs in the processor, and add the eggs. Whir until you have a homogeneous paste. It should look gritty, like concrete, rather than soupy.
Add flour until the mass separates into tiny pellets. If they seem too small or incompletely coated, add more egg then more flour until you feel you have a pleasantsize and presentation of pasta. Remember that too large a pellet will be difficult to dry, and uneven in an elegant serving.
Spread out evenly on baking sheets and place in the bright dry sun, or alternately, place in a low oven for several hours, There will be quite a bit of shrinkage. I choose to turn the pasta several times, to avoid clumping and aid drying.
You can now store the pasta in a cool dry container, such as a mason jar in the fridge. or a zip bag in the freezer.
In order to prepare the dish for service, put about a half cup of broth per person into a pot, and add the optional saffron.
When the broth is warm, add a quarter cup of pasta per person to the pot, and watch carefully, Add more broth as needed, as the pasta absorbs. I prefer the dish dry, but you may prefer it with more liquid. I prefer not to stir overmuch, just enough to prevent clumping. I find it works much better to add pasta to broth, rather than the other way.
If there is too much broth, you might allow it to simmer down, but if there is not enough broth and you are running low, water will not ruin the dish.
To serve, place in a warmed bowl, top with a dollop of milky cheese, and sprinkle with spices. Alternately, this would be a lovely bed for a roast or braised dish.
There is a fair amount of room to adapt this dish, whether by using an herb or vegetable broth, or making it more brothy or more fluffy by changing the broth proportions. The only things that cannot be adjusted are that it is unabashedly an egg and wheat dish.