Batufoli, a Livorno Autumn Recipe

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Ttuscan-fall-recipethe humble culinary tradition of Livorno. The name Batufoli derives from the shape of the food in the dish. The yellow corn meal little mounds on the plate remind that of cotton tufts sprouting from the cotton plant, that is because the corn meal is not as thick as polenta would be nor too liquid. In Italian cotton tufts are called “batuffoli”, and one “f” is lost in the local popular language. The original recipe states that the sauce should be made with pork or sausage, but it is very common to prepare it with beef.

Ingredients for 6 to 8 people:
- 400 grams of yellow cornmeal
- about 2 liters of water
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Parmesan cheese
- 350 grams of minced pork or sausages
- 400 grams of peeled and seeded tomatoes
- A handful of dried mushrooms
- One clove of garlic
- One onion, celery, carrot
- 2 tbsp of fresh parsley

Preparation:

The Meat Sauce
Mince the onion, celery, carrot and parsley and sauté in a saucepan. Let the vegetables brown slightly and then add the ground meat. Brown the meat and stir it with the aid of a wooden spoon, keeping it in a separate portion of the skillet. After a few minutes add the tomatoes and the dried mushrooms that you have previously passed under cold water. If you use peeled or fresh tomatoes, first you must passed them in a food mill. If necessary add a tablespoon of tomato paste concentrate. Stir everything together in the skillet and allow to simmer over low heat for at least an hour. When it is almost cooked, taste and add salt as you wish.

The “Batufoli”
Bring the water to a rolling boil, lightly salt it water, then pour in the cornmeal letting it slip through your fingers or pass through a colander, constantly stirring to avoid creating lumps. Cooking times vary depending on the flour used, the average time is 40 minutes. If it thickens too much add water, as it should not be as thick as polenta. As a rule of thumb, a wooden spoon should not stay up straight if left in the pan, nor should the cornmeal be watery. When it is cooked, you will see that large bubbles begin to form and burst, serve the “Batufoli” in each plate using a large spoon. Cover them with plenty of sauce and Parmesan cheese and serve steaming-hot. A warning: while cooling down the “Batufoli” tend to form a thin crust on the surface and seem cool. Inside, however, they are still very hot.