Nostalgic of the flavours of Tuscany, I was inspired by perhaps the most memorable dish of my last vacation there. I have previously reviewed Osteria Le Logge, and their amazing spaghetti with guanciale. Conscious of the fact that reproducing such flavours without the exact ingredients would be impossible, I aimed at creating a simple pasta dish with a classic Tuscan flavour.
I combined three types of onions: leek and shallots to sweeten the sauce and fresh chives to give it a bit of a zest (the thin, western type, not the Chinese chives). I combined those with some guanciale and Tuscan pecorino cheese to give the sauce body and flavour, and some local kai lan to add some green aspect to the dish and give it that tad of bitterness.
I still had a pack of pici that I bought in Tuscany, so instead of making them myself, I used the pre-packaged ones, missing some of the fun. I still prefer handmade pici, as I like them irregular in shape and thickness. This is a rustic pasta, and it's not supposed to be perfect!
I sliced the leek in fairly thick slices, then the shallots in thin strips and finally the chopped the chives very finely. I roughly cut the guanciale in 1-2 cm pieces, and detached the leaves from the kai lan, discarding the stems.
After frying the guanciale for a couple of minutes in extra virgin olive oil, I added the shallots and leek and browned them. I then removed the leek and set it aside, to maintain it slightly undercooked and also to use it for later decoration on top of the pasta. I added about 100ml of chicken stock and reduced it with the rest of the ingredients, while the pici were boiling in salted water.
Once the pici were ready, I tossed the kai lan leaves and half of the chives into the sauce, added the pici and sauteed them all together for about 30 seconds.
I then arranged the pici into solid olive wood bowls, and topped them with the leeks, the remaining chives, some grated pecorino cheese, freshly ground pink, white and black pepper, and a drizzle of Tuscan extra virgin olive oil.
The quality Tuscan olive oil brought together this dish with its earthy, green flavours. I want Tuscany, all over again.