Renaissance Crostini with Guanciale and Sage


We selected today’s recipe from the book of Bartolomeo Scappi, one of the most famous cooks of the 16th century who worked among the court of two popes. His extensive tome, divided into six books and comprehensive of hundreds of recipes, constitutes a fundamental source for the late Renaissance cuisine and shows how the court cooking assimilated the new ingredients imported from the New World, for example, the appreciated pollanca d’India (Indian chicken): the turkey.
This easy and fast (but extraordinary) recipe is called panghiotto, that means “delicious bread”. It is toasted bread prepared with guanciale, sage, and onions. It could be considered an early ancestor of the bruschetta.

one-day-old bread
white wine vinegar
spices (black pepper, cinnamon, and white cane sugar)

Cut the bread into slices. We recommend using non-salted bread, like the Tuscany bread that is used today to make the bruschetta. Now, pick the sage tops and mince the onion. We used half an onion for two slices of bread. Grind the spices into the mortar with a little bit of white cane sugar.
Toast the bread with butter, then put it aside and prepare the guanciale, rendering it in a pan. Brown in its fats the onions with the sage, and add vinegar, and the spices. Now, you can plate. Pour the sauce over the bread adding a slice of guanciale and sage.

Panghiotto 1.jpg

Note about the ingredients
Guanciale is an Italian cured meat made with pork cheek.
Butter is a staple ingredient for the Italian cooking starting from the Renaissance. Middle Ages’ court cuisine preferred lardo; in contrast, ancient-Roman wealthy people opted for olive oil.
Known since the Antiquity, the sugar was used sparingly, just like the other spices, during the Middle Ages, but in the Renaissance became a staple ingredient. This fact combined with a precise turn of taste: sweet flavors began to predominate in the banquets.
The author gives us the option of using prosciutto, lardo, and reduced must instead of guanciale, butter, and sugar. You can find the original recipe with the translation below.

Panghiotto 2.jpg

Original recipe
Per far crostate cioè panghiotto con barbaglia di porco, o presciutto.
[Piglionsi fette di pane cotto d’un giorno di grossezza d’una costa di coltello], friggasi in butiro, overo in lardo liquefatto, et habbiasi barbaglia di porco tagliata in fette, overo presciutto, et soffrigganosi nella padella con cipollette battute, et cime di salvia, et come saranno soffritte, pongasi in esse un poco di aceto, et mosto cotto, over zuccaro, et pepe, et cannella, dandovi una calda, et habbianosi apparecchiate le fette del pane nel piatto bagnate con un poco di grasso caldo, et pongansi sopra la barbaglia o il presciutto, con l’altre materie, et servansi calda.

To make crostate, namely panghiotto, with guanciale or prosciutto.
Make slices of one-day-old bread the size of the spine of a knife, and fry in butter or melted lardo. Cut in slices guanciale or prosciutto and make a soffritto in a pan with minced onions. When they are browned, add a little of vinegar, reduced must or sugar, pepper, cinnamon, and heat them up. Place the slices of bread, soaked with a bit of hot fat, on the plate, and arrange over it the guanciale or prosciutto with the sauce. Serve it warm.

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