Ecco Le Marche

Today Elke is trying for us a delicious made-in-Le-Marche recipe: Maccheroni alla Rossini.

Gioachino Rossini, one of the best-known opera composers whose pieces are now part of the standard repertoire of international opera houses, was born into a family of musicians in Pesaro in the Marche region in 1792.

He was a child prodigy, performed with his mother in northern Italy at the age of 10 and composed his first opera at the age of 18, which was only to be the beginning of his great career as a composer and plunged half of Europe into a Rossini frenzy. Paris in particular ended up having a strong influence on him: here, he became court composer at the French royal court under Charles X. Philippe, a highlight of his career; however, his involvement there ended abruptly in 1830 with the July Revolution. But he continued to work musically and in different places in Europe, for example in London or Bologna.

However, Paris also awakened in him a passion for something else that he would dedicate to the rest of his life: the art of cooking.

Humorous as he was, this quote he has passed down perhaps best expresses his passion for both music and good food:

“I admit to having cried three times in my life: when I failed my first opera, when I heard Paganini play the violin and when a truffled turkey fell overboard at a boat picnic.”

Gioachino Rossini

The famous “Tournedos Rossini” were supposedly created by Parisian celebrity chef Casimir Moisson on Rossini’s behalf and can now be found on the menus of upscale restaurants worldwide. Fried slices of beef fillet are topped with goose liver and truffle.

Truffle? Truffle! It goes without saying that these are typical of the Marchigian Rossini: after all, Le Marche is one of the outstanding truffle regions (we have already reported on the truffle hunt in Acqualagna and the truffle market in Pergola), which may have inspired Rossini in his gourmet activities.

Truffle is therefore also one of the main ingredients in the Maccheroni alla Rossini that he invented.

Legend has it that Rossini hosted the writer Alexandre Dumas (“The 3 Musketeers”, “The Count of Monte Cristo”) and served the maccheroni alla Rossini for the occasion. But Dumas didn’t appreciate them, he expected more traditional Neapolitan pasta with tomato sauce. Since then, however, the dish has been on the menus of restaurants in and around Acqualagna.

I just had to cook it! Here my recipe:

200 gr Maccheroni

For the sauce:

50 gr grated Parmesan
50 gr of butter
500 ml broth
10 gr dried mushrooms (I used porcini mushrooms)
2 truffles, sliced
100g lean ham, sliced (I used cured ham)
1 tomato, diced
100 ml cream
2 glasses of champagne
1 pinch of “4 spice mixture” – here I used some cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander and cloves
1 bunch of herbs (parsley, bay leaf, thyme)


Let all the sauce ingredients simmer together for about 1 hour on a low flame and then strain.

To bridge the waiting time we treated ourselves to a glass of delicious champagne 🙂

Now cook the pasta. Rossini points out in his recipe that it is of the utmost importance not to overcook the pasta, lest it absorb too much water (and be able to absorb more of the sauce): I therefore take 1-2 minutes less cooking time than stated on the pack.

Now grease a casserole dish lightly with butter, pour in a layer of the strained sauce, then add the cooked, drained pasta and cover with the rest of the sauce. Add a little breadcrumbs and a few knobs of butter on top and finally gratinate in the oven. Once the pasta has turned golden, it is done and should be eaten as soon as possible.

Delicious and not too difficult to make if you stick to a few basic rules (like cooking the pasta al dente). Because of the more exclusive ingredients such as truffles and champagne, it is not an everyday recipe, but certainly something for a special occasion.



Tip 1: In the truffle places like Acqualagna or Pergola you can get truffles in a glass at acceptable prices. I used summer truffles, but they have the weakest taste. Tartufo Nero Pregiato or White Truffles will be more flavorful. Fresh truffles would of course be best, but I find them too expensive and a shame to boil them in a sauce for 1 hour. (But if you have one, you can grate some fresh truffle over the finished dish, because then it smells good)

Tip 2: Rossini, as a Paris lover, naturally used champagne for the recipe. In Le Marche, however, there are also very excellent sparkling wines that you can use: they are produced using the champagne method and are of just as high quality, but they are not allowed to call themselves champagne because the designation is of course protected locally. However, do not use any cheap sparkling wine, that would be a shame for the elegant dish and the truffles!

Tip 3: In Italy, maccheroncini are often short, smooth pasta; use whatever type of past you have at hand.


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