Wish Upon A Dish: Priest Choker

November 5, 2010

Priest Choker

Strozzapreti ("priest choker" in Italian) are typically an elongated form of cavatelli, or hand-rolled pasta.

There are several legends to explain the name "priest choker".

One is that gluttonous priests were so enthralled by the savory pasta that they ate too quickly and choked themselves, sometimes to death. Another explanation involves the "azdora" ("housewife" in the Romagna's dialect), who "chokes" the dough strips to make the strozzapreti: "... in that particular moment you would presume that the azdora would express such a rage (perhaps triggered by the misery and difficulties of her life) to be able to strangle a priest!" Another legend goes that wives would customarily make the pasta for churchmen as partial payment for land rents (In Romagna, the Catholic Church had extensive land properties rented to farmers), and their husbands would be angered enough by the venal priests eating their wives' food to wish the priests would choke as they stuffed their mouth with it. The name surely reflects the diffuse anticlericalism of the people of Romagna and Tuscany.

If you can't find strozzapreti use cavatelli or gemelli.

Strozzapretti with Pecorino, Prosciutto and Escarole
Serves 4
* 1 lb Strozzapretti pasta
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 6 egg yolks
* 1 1/2 cups freshly grated pecorino romano cheese, large holes
* 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
* 1 tablespoon good quality, flaky salt
* 1 head escarole, cut cross-wise to within 1 inch of stem (wash well)
* 1/4 lb prosciutto, torn into bite-sized pieces.

Set a large pot of water to boil. In a small saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer over low flame.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine egg yolks, Pecorino, pepper, and salt. Whisk gently.
When the pot of water reaches a boil, add a good shake of salt and cook pasta to al dente along with the escarole. Drain quickly and toss into the bowl with the egg mixture, allowing some of the pasta water to mix in. Pour the simmered stock over the pasta and toss everything together gently.

Divide between four warm pasta bowls and lay a nice handful of prosciutto across each portion. Serve immediately.


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