Rich and hearty recipes for the cold season
Late fall and early winter is a very good time of year to discover Umbria's cuisine, both because its rich, hearty dishes are suited to the cold, brisk days of these months and because its most precious ingredients are at their most plentiful and best.
The first courses include steaming bowls of thick soups, made with simple and ancient ingredients such as farro (in 'zuppa di farro') or lentils (the locally grown 'lenticchie di Castelluccio' are famous all over Italy). However, pasta fans will not be disappointed with "stringozzi," an Umbrian version of tagliatelle, which are served with the famous black truffle from the Norcia region, with 'porcini' mushrooms or with asparagus.
As befits a landlocked, mountainous region, you won't find much fish here, apart from river trout and eels and carp from Lake Trasimeno, but in compensation you have an overwhelming choice of succulent varieties of meat. Mountain lamb crops up as "agnello a scottadito" or "agnello alla brace," while pork is often cooked whole over a spit. All varieties of game abound: wild boar, venison, and also hare and rabbit, which are served "alla cacciatora" (with tomatoes, rosemary, and wine) or "in porchetta" (stuffed with pancetta, rabbit liver, lardo, and herbs). Another specialty worth trying is "fagiano alla leccarda," pheasant served with a rich sauce made with the cooking juices. Pigeon is also a popular ingredient, and is used to make a rich stew "piccione in salmì" though you will often find it simply stuffed and roasted. Duck, quail, and goose (served with lentils) complete the range of offerings.