The Via Ritiro N.7 diary is back from its short break for the festive seasons. Although we were not in Sicily for the period an e-mail suprise from Sicily allows to show you at least one typical dish from Ispica. Friends send us over pictures of the 'mpanate spaccafurnare they prepared for Christmas eve. A 'mpanata is a kind of pie made using durum hard wheat flour and usually stuffed with a combination of various ingredients such as potatoes and dried codfish (baccala') or cauliflower and sausages. Each town has its own special filling. For example, in Modica they use spinach and fried dogfish. In Ispica the distinguishing feature is the use of pasta in the pastry, with a pork-based sauce. They are called 'mpanate spaccafurnare because Spaccaforno was the older name of Ispica, until the name was changed during the fascist period.
The 'mpanate spaccafurnare are pastry stuffed with home-made fresh pasta and sugo di maiale (pork-based sauce). Each family has its own way of doing the sauce but the general steps are firstly to stir-fry onions and sear the pork in olive oil, add red wine, and concetrate of tomato-sauce (typically home-made as well), bay leaves, some water and allow to simmer for a couple of hours.
The full recipe also requires the addition of sicilian sausages to the sauce, while cauliflowers (which are cooked separately) can be added to the mixture.
The resulting sugo is added to the pasta which is then placed in a pie and sealed.
The pies are then placed in the oven, after they have been appropriately marked to distinguish the pies of those who would like only pork and no sausage, those who want just sausage, etc. The results are absolutely delicious and a perfect Christmas dish.