Sammarinese Cuisine is very much Mediterranean in its makeup, and an important and integral element of the lifestyle in San Marino. Locally raised livestock, farmed produce and pasta are key ingredients in Sammarinese cuisine.
While closely resembling the cuisine of the Italian Romagna region which borders San Marino, Sammarinese cuisine has its own traditional and unique dishes. San Marino also produces some of Europe’s most distinctive wines, including a strong red wine called Sangiovese, and a dry white wine known as Biancale.
If you walked through the towns of San Marino, you would see many small restaurants, family-owned, more often than not with out door seating provided in the warm summer months. The people of San Marino enjoy eating together with family and friends, as Sammarinese cuisine is about more than just taking in sustenance. It is a very important part of daily life and socializing.
Perhaps the most beloved dish, prepared traditionally on Christmas, of Sammarinese cuisine, is Faggioli con le Cotiche, a dark bean soup flavored a blend of seasonings and pork belly. And that is the recipe below, the first of several to come soon. So help yourself now, to a taste of …
Faggioli con le Cotiche
For simmering the beans-
- 1 lb. dried cannellini beans
- 1 large peeled garlic clove
- 1 sprig of fresh parsley
- Salt, to taste
For simmering the pork-
- 1 lb. pork belly or pork rind
- 1 large stalk of celery
- 1/2 medium onion, peeled and left whole
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the tomato sauce-
- 1 lb. canned tomatoes with basil
- 1/2 medium onion, peeled and chopped fine
- 2 or 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine
- 1 handful of fresh parsley, chopped fine
- Lard (you can substitute olive oil, but the authentic sammarinese cuisine traditional way calls for real lard)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Soak the beans overnight. The next day, simmer the beans in fresh water, enough to cover them completely, along with a garlic clove and parsley. Soak them a good 2 hours, to ensure they are good and tender. Reserve some of the water.
- While the beans are soaking, pre-boil the pork belly (or rind) for about 15 to 20 minutes, then remove it and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Reserve some of the water.
- When cool enough to handle, slice it into thin strips, then crosscut the strips into 1-1/2″ to 2″ long chunks. Some cooks prefer to trim off some of the fat at this stage, but traditionally it is left fully fatted, and I like it that way myself.
- Next, simmer the strips in enough lightly salted water to cover them, along with the onion and celery. When they are tender, but still just a tad chewy, they are done. This can take anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes.
- While simmering the pork belly strips, prepare your Faggioli con le Cotiche’s tomato sauce in a casserole dish large enough to hold all the ingredients. Enameled cast iron or a terracotta baking dish is perfect for this. Make a soffritto by sautéing the garlic, parsley and onion on a mild simmer in lard. Again, you can substitute olive oil, but the traditional and authentic way is to use real lard. And just this once won’t give you clogged arteries. (wink)
- Add in your canned tomatoes, passing them through a food mill into the pot, to purée them at the same time. Allow the tomato purée to simmer until it has reduced into a sauce—about 15-20 minutes.
- Next you will bring everything together. Add the pork chunks into the tomato sauce. Stir well, and let them simmer and incorporate into the dish for about 5 minutes.
- Now add the cooked beans, and again mix everything together thoroughly. If your Faggioli con le Cotiche seems a tad dry, go ahead and add a little of the pork and/or bean-soaking water until you get the consistency you desire.
- Simmer the entire dish for about half an hour, allowing all the flavors to meet and greet, and come together in one harmonious symphony of flavors.
- Serve your Faggioli con le Cotiche right away, while hot. Alternatively, as with many long-simmered bean dishes, fagioli con le cotiche will taste even better if allowed to sit overnight and then be reheated before serving on the next day.
For more Sammarinese cuisine dishes, click on the recipes below:
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