A dish for all seasons, a specialty which taste never sets: the “Vincisgrassi” or “Vincesgrassi”!
Here, in the Marche, instead of the classic Italian “lasagne” we prepare a dish rich of history and local tradition: the vincisgrassi. The most common reliable explanation of the name of this dish is that it was named in honor of general Alfred Von Windisch-Graetz who, during the siege of Ancona in the 19th century, fought in and won the Austrians thus deserving immortality, at least at the tables of the Marche people.
As it often happens when we talk about dishes with such deep roots in the local past, also this recipe is the result of the spirit of subsistence of that time and indeed its ingredients were those available in the courtyards of any farmer.
Then what is the difference between our vincisgrassi and the national lasagne? First of all the ingredients: in the vincisgrassi we use chicken giblets, there are more spices and in the original recipe the beef meat was completely absent; plus the pasta is made of eggs and flour without water. Even the preparation is different, in effect all the meat is hand-diced and not grounded like lasagne and respect to the latter it is generally made by more layers. In the course of time the recipe has remained almost completely unchanged, though we usually refer to our own custom recipe that is handed down from family to family usually without precise quantities but cooking by ear and with many “just have a look when it is enough” and “put a little more, a little more, a little more, too much!”.
We are not an exception so let’s go straight to facts and take a look at the proven recipe of mom Gabri, even though we have been merciful and we have given you the doses 🙂
Ingredients for 6 persons
500 g lasagna sheets (the dough must be cut to rectangular sheets of about 20 cm x 10 cm)
350 g chicken giblets (heart, liver etc)
200 g pork meat
200 g beef pulp
100 g bacon (we do not use it for our recipe but you can add it to make the sauce more tasty)
1 ossobuco/veal shank (though not part of the traditional recipe it gives a special flavour)
1 stalk of celery
300 g tomato sauce
100 g grated Parmesan cheese
oil EVO, salt, pepper to taste
1 glass of white wine
1. Dice the various cuts of meat: the pork, the beef, the bacon, if you like, and lastly the giblets.
2. Cut finely the stalk of celery, the carrot and onion together with the bacon if you want to use it and sauté them in a pot for 5 minutes with extra virgin olive oil.
3. Give everything flavour for a few minutes then join the beef, the pork, the ribs, the sausages and ossobuco and let them cook until the meat reaches a brown color. Pour the glass of white wine and let it evaporate over high heat. Then add the tomato sauce with some water. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add the chicken giblets to the sauce and mix. Cover the pot with a lid and let it cook for about an hour and a half stirring it with a wooden spoon from time to time. The sauce should be quite dense and the meat cooked.
5. Boil 4 or 5 rectangular sheets of egg pasta at a time and once “al dente” drain them with a skimmer. Place the cooked pasta in a kitchen cloth to dry. Repeat the procedure with the remaining pasta sheets.
6. Pour a few tablespoons of sauce in a baking dish with high edges then line the pan with a first layer of lasagna sheets, cover them with a large spoon of sauce and after with a spoon of grated Parmesan cheese.
7. Repeat this preparation as to form a multi-layered baked pasta dish (it is typical of vincisgrassi to have at least a dozen layers) and finish the dish with a layer of sauce and a large fistful of Parmesan cheese.
8. Bake the vincisgrassi at a preheated oven at 180° C for about 30 minutes and take them out of the oven as soon as a beautiful golden crust is formed on the surface.
AND… BUON APPETITO!