LIGURIA MACELLAIO - step by step instructions

Liguria is an emerald gem of a region – what one of my good friends would describe as one of ‘God’s thumbprints’ on the earth. One of the smallest regions of Italy, it’s composed of equal parts gorgeous coastline and towering rocky hills. This mountainous landscape lends itself wonderfully to vegetables – fat tomatoes, earthy pulses and beans, and heady Ligurian basil - but less so to animal husbandry, so the main meat for Liguria has always been rabbit; hunted wild or farmed and fattened on spare crops. Here, I give you a feast of Liguria’s springtime bounty – farinata (chickpea pancake) with verdant runner beans, young rabbit braised in wine and wild herbs, and camogliesi, fat little choux buns stuffed with chocolate.  

For your meal you will need:

  • A frying pan or small oven tray for the farinata
  • A saucepan for the rabbit, and a second one for the mash
  • A wooden spoon and a palette knife

The detailed recipes for the dishes are below, but in essence:

  • Let all the ingredients come up to room temperature
  • Cook the farinata and dress the salad, then eat
  • Heat the rabbit with splash of water, and warm the mash
  • Chop the tomatoes, and dress them
  • Eat the rabbit, mash & salad, then the pud

Farinata with runner beans, anchovy, lemon & pine nuts

Farinata is a wonderful Ligurian specialty, an oily and rich pancake, dense with chickpea flour and aromatic with rosemary. Dating back to Roman times, it is a feature of all the cuisines spread along this section of coast – from France to Tuscany – but no-one makes it as well as the Genovese. Here, we have it with a very Riviera-y salad of finely sliced beans, delicate basil, and salted anchovies, and it is superb.   

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • Farinata batter (a mix of chickpea flour, water, rosemary, oil & salt)
  • A little fine olive oil
  • Some runner beans, thinly sliced and blanched
  • Toasted pine nuts & fresh basil
  • A dressing of chopped salted anchovy & Sorrento lemon

Direction:

  • Preheat your oven to 220C
  • Decant the batter into a bowl, and give it a good stir with a wooden spoon
  • If using a frying pan – 8in or so diameter (20cm)
    • Heat the pan over a medium heat till hot but not smoking
    • Add half the oil (save the rest for the salad), then the farinata batter – it should be about 4mm thick, so cook in batches if your pan is small
    • Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the base is coloured but not too dark, then transfer the whole pan to the oven to cook for a further 4-5 minutes
    • Remove from the oven, turn out onto a plate, and serve warm
  • If using an oven tray (22x15cm or so)
    • Heat the tray in the oven till very hot, then add the oil
    • Return the tray to the oven to heat the oil for a minute or two, then add the farinata mix
    • Pop back in the oven and cook for 6-8 minutes until pale gold and just firm
  • Meanwhile, dry the beans a little (on a clean tea towel), then put them & the pine nuts into a mixing bowl, then tear in the basil
  • add the anchovy & lemon to the salad, and the remaining oil, and mix well
  • Serve the farinata cut into wedges with the salad alongside

    Coniglio alla Ligure & olive oil mash 

    A spectacularly popular dish in Liguria – and very deservedly so; rabbit braised with red wine & pine nuts, aromatic with wild thyme and rosemary, and spiked with salty little black olives. Given its popularity, it’s somewhat surprising that the hills of that region are still teeming with the furry little creatures, though I suppose they do breed like... In any case, it’s a true taste of the region, and here, teamed with mash rich with fine olive oil, it is superlative. 

    Your pack serves two and contains:

    • 2 rabbit legs, braised with red wine, black olives, pine nuts & wild herbs
    • Potatoes mashed with fantastic olive oil

    Directions:

    • Put the rabbit and its sauce into a saucepan, and add 75ml water
    • Cover with a lid, then bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes at a very gentle simmer
    • Meanwhile, put the mash in a second pan
    • Heat over a medium heat, stirring from time to time, until hot through – this will probably take 5-6 minutes or so (or pop it into a bowl and microwave until hot)
    • Serve the rabbit with its sauce, and the mash on the side

    Merinda tomatoes, olive oil & basil 

    Crunchy, mildly acidic & saline, these tomatoes are very different to their plump summer brethren, and to my mind, superior. They are at their best when part green, part red, and offer a fantastic crunch and deeply savoury flavour. Tossed with a little good oil and fresh basil, they form the simplest and most beautiful salad of all. 

    Your pack serves two as a side and contains:

    • Some merinda tomatoes
    • A little fresh basil
    • Some beautiful olive oil

    Directions:

    • Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before eating
    • Chop into rough chunks
    • Season well with coarse salt, tear in the basil and douse with some of the oil (you’ll probably have a little spare – use it for dunking bread)

    Camogliesi al rhum

    Camogliesi are, like all the best things, a 70’s invention designed to lure in tourists – originally from Pasticceria Revello in Camogli, a small town just a few kilometres up the coast from Portofino, they were a way to give the town its own distinctive product, and so give tourists a reason to wander in. They worked – so much so that now not only are these butch choco-coated profiteroles richly stuffed with choco-rum ganache, but the people of Camogli are too.

    Your pack serves two and contains:

    • Four little camogliesi

    Directions:

    • Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before eating, or better yet, 1-2 hours
    • Serve on plates
    • Scoff

    ENJOY