Ventricina Ragu is the simplest way to recapture that indefinable tomato sauce you tasted after exploring Abruzzo. It’s fail safe too, the succulent Queen of Abruzzo’s cured meats does all the hard work for you, providing the right amount of sweet chili, wild fennel and touch of orange to make a light ragu that suits all seasons.
For those who don’t know this coarse, ovoid shaped Vastese salami, it’s created up in Vasto’s hilly zone near the Trigno and Sinello Rivers. Choice cuts of pork, de-boned thighs, loins and shoulder are mixed with the famous Altino peperoncino, salt and a sprinkle of wild fennel flowers, seeds or rosemary depending on who you ask, and stuffed in bladder castings that are traditionally washed in orange juice and then left to mature for 100 days. If you are buying some look for Ventricina with a bright orange red hue, pomegranate red and brown are the mark of low quality in this type of salami.
The journalist Piergiorgio Greco says that “Ventricina is the appetising tale of humanity and history of entire villages that dot the southern appendix of the strong and gentle region”, a humanity that today is worth some 4.5 million euros! If you are in Vasto over the summer, check out the Ventricina del Vastese Festival to sample just how good this salami is or alternatively take yourself off to those hill-top villages and taste the subtle differences in their prized Ventricina.
- Brown the crushed garlic clove in oil, remove it and add the julienne-cut onion. When it is wilted, add the crumbled bay leaf and ventricina.
- Cook over a low flame for five minutes, add the wine and let it evaporate completely, then add the tin of plum tomatoes chopped finely.
- Cook slowly for an hour.
- Dress 320 g pasta with your ragu and serve with grated Pecorino cheese