Recipe: Rigatoni with bell peppers and bardiccio

Let’s start with the full name of this recipe: Senatore Cappelli durum wheat rigatoni with bell pepper cream, bardiccio and Pecorino delle Balze Volterrane DOP.

It’s a recipe that combines three ingredients that are dear to me: bell peppers are my favorite vegetable and I love them any way in which they are prepared; bardiccio, which is the meat specialty from my corner of the world; and Pecorino Volterrano DOP, which with the amazing Monte Sante Marie rigatoni, create a dish of identity.

A few words about bardiccio. It’s a little-known specialty for the simple reason that it’s only produced in a small area, between Dicomano and Pontassieve. Extremely flavorful and also very versatile, it’s basically a sausage that is mainly made from less noble pork cuts and sometimes even beef offcuts. In the past, pork offal was often included, but today that practice has almost fallen by wayside. Parts from beneath the throat, belly and sometimes the lungs are used, but what gives bardiccio such an unmistakable flavor is the strong seasoning with fennel seeds. I like to call it finocchiona’s fresh sibling.

The recipe’s very straightforward: for 4 people, I take 2 red bell peppers and cook them in the oven at 180°C for about 20 minutes before passing them through a sieve and seasoning them with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, I bake a “cannella” (unit of measurement of bardiccio!) of bardiccio in the hot oven for 10 minutes before dicing it.

Sauté a clove of garlic in some oil until it turns pale gold. Add the bardiccio and bell pepper cream. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente and drain. Finish cooking the pasta in the pan with the sauce and serve in a deep dish with generous shavings of Pecorino Volterrano DOP.

A dish like this calls for a vibrant wine with a nice acidity like Chianti Bio.