Mamma mia, that’s delicious! In Sicily with Marco de Vincenzo

‘ncasciata pasta: A traditional recipe from Messina

Designer Marco de Vincenzo’s creations are made for sexy and sophisticated women with a delicate soul. Minimalist lines and geometric decorations make his exclusive design for surprising; A lurex knitted dress that goes with a precious apron. His mamma is from Messina, in northeastern Sicily, famed for its Cathedral bell tower (think cuckoo clock on steroids, Sicilian-style) with a daily spectacle that begins at noon with a crowing rooster, roaring lion waving a flag, procession of ambassadors, Apollo’s chariot, bronze statues striking the bells. Marco de Vincenzo’s mamma made pasta ‘ncaciata for the holidays, cheesed-up pasta, a festive Baroque dish that’s as complicated as the bell tower.

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Mamma mia, that’s delicious! In Sicily with Marco de Vincenzo

    • The classic (and massive) Sicilian cookbook “Perfumes of Sicily” by Giovanni Coria has four different versions, all heavy on the cheese. The Messinese interpretation has maccheroncini, a short pasta layered with tomato sauce, meat sauce, slices of fried eggplant, basil leaves, pieces of toma, a mild sheep’s milk cheese, sausage or salami bits, slices of hard-boiled egg and lots of grated pecorino cheese. No wonder it’s considered a one-dish meal. In the book “Sicily” edited by Phaidon, you’ll find a classic version of the recipe. The dish, in fact, has a number of different versions. I called my favorite restaurants in Messina, Tischi Toschi, Due Sorelle and Al Padrino. Everyone knew the dish but thought it was from another part of Sicily, and no one makes it anymore. But restaurateur Enrico Briguglio prepares pasta ‘ncasciata on request at his Ristorante Duomo, in Taormina in the province of Messina. Visit the Greek Amphitheater while you’re in town and if the weather is clear admire the view of Mount Etna behind the stage. And although it’s not in the province of Messina, Ristorante Coria, named to honor the famous Sicilian cookbook author, will also prepare it on request.

    • The city is known for its ceramics and spectacular tiled staircase, perfect for working off some of pasta ‘ncasciata’s calories.

  • Pasta’Ncasciata recipe

  • 3 aubergines (eggplants), sliced into rounds

  • 2 eggs

  • 150 ml/¼ pint (¬ cup) vegetable oil

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled

  • 600 g/1 lb 5 oz ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped

  • 5 basil leaves

  • 80 g/3 oz ham, finely chopped

  • 80 g/3 oz lean beef, finely chopped

  • 80 g/3 oz chicken livers, trimmed and finely chopped

  • butter, for greasing

  • 4–6 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs

  • 425 g/15 oz maccheroni

  • 80 g/3 oz mozzarella cheese, diced

  • 25 g/1 oz (‡ cup) grated pecorino cheese

  • salt and pepper

  • Preparation time: 1 hour 30 minutes + standing time

  • Cooking time: 20 minutes

  • Serves 6

  • Put the aubergine (eggplant) slices into a colander, sprinkling each layer with salt and let stand for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the eggs in lightly salted boiling water for 8–10 minutes until hard-boiled. Remove from the heat, rinse under cold running water, shell and cut into wedges. Rinse the aubergine slices and pat dry with paper towels. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan or skillet, add the aubergine slices, in batches, and cook until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a shallow pan, add the garlic clove and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for a few minutes, until lightly browned, then remove and discard it. Add the tomatoes and basil to the pan and cook, stirring, for a few minutes, then add the ham, beef and chicken livers. Increase the heat to medium, season, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

  • Grease a deep ovenproof dish large enough to hold the pasta with butter and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs, shaking out the excess. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil, add the pasta, bring back to a boil and cook for 8–10 minutes, or according to the package instructions, until al dente. Drain and return to the pan, then pour the meat sauce over it. Add the mozzarella, hard-boiled eggs and aubergines, stir and pour into the prepared dish. Sprinkle with the pecorino and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and let stand for a few minutes, then turn out onto a warmed serving dish to serve.

Mamma Mia, that’s delicious!
Italy’s top designers remember their mothers’ signature dishes. A gastronomic journey through the country’s most tasteful traditions

It’s no secret that Italian mammas are the best cooks in the world. Faith Willinger, chef, author, and food journalist, speaks to Italian designers about their mothers and the age-old family recipes passed from generation to generation that evoke warm feelings of holidays at home and tell The New Yooxer readers where to find them. Through a series of whimsical features, Willinger speaks to the many traditions of Italy’s different regions, marrying two of the country’s most time-honored traditions—fashion and food.

18 November 2013
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