Favorite Recipes and Puns - Who is this Pisticcio character?

Moonlighting - Petruchio David

In English, you wascally wabbit! You cooking cryptid.

How do you make pisticcio?asked B.T. Evilpants

Before reading the addendum to the question posed by Mr. Evilpants; I wondered what member of the Parthenon this character was -- I didn’t remember him.

Refreshing my knowledge of the Greek gods and goddesses, I found that Pisticcio did not, in fact, exist or was a silent partner. Or perhaps an Ancient Mathematician from an episode of SyFy's Warehouse 13. I was getting nowhere fast, but then had a thought.

Of course – Shakespeare! – Petruchio, a character from The Taming of the Shrew, a parody on TV’s Moonlighting, and the film 10 Things I Hate About You. Alas, I was incorrect.

Pizzicato? A Musical Feast?

I digressed and thought it might be pizzicato. There’s a gourmet pizza restaurant chain on the West Coast called Pizzicato Gourmet Pizza. Their menus look very appetizing, but this was probably not what the Jackalope wanted.

Pizzicatto or pizzicato is more memorable to me from my concert days as a musician’s technique. On recent talent shows, we’ve witnessed violinists plucking whole musical pieces instead of applying the bow, in order to gain recognition and big cash prizes. It’s most entertaining. I’ve seen a pianist arise from the piano bench and go around to pluck the strings in part of a performance and was impressed with this form of pizzicato as well. Then there are the various types of guitar plucking, those of Spanish Guitar technique being my favorites. Aside from plucking a chicken, I could think of no pizzicato that the Jackalope could mean – not right now.

There is also a song called A Pisticcio for Pinocchio. It is the lead song on a children’s music album created by James Leisy and Carl Eberhard from a musical based on the fairy tale The Adventures of Pinocchio by the Italian author, Carlo Collodi. Still, pisticcio is not music itself.

Three Stooges in Space (Not My Pastiche)

Pastiche? Pistachio?

Could it be pastiche, which sounds like French pastry? Pastiche is the resurrection of literary characters by a new author, hopefully with the permission of the original author’s estate. If there is no permission, then this is another p-word: plagiarism (and copyright violation, possibly trademark infringement). I have not prepared a pastiche since the 6th grade, when I wrote a Three Stooges comedy set in outer space. BT Evilpants may enjoy the Stooges as much as the next cryptid, but I can’t find the old spiral notebook containing the story. It was funny, too.

No, pisticcio sounds more like pistachio and must be something in the food line. Something with gravy, likely, since BT is a sauce-and-gravy connoisseur. I think he took Anthony Bourdain’s place on Food Network when he left.

Pasticcio from Handel

An Old Favorite

Looking through recipes and cookbooks, I was surprised to find that I'd made pisticcio - or pasticcio (also a Roman opera first sung by castrati, and genre of music writing) - a number of times, but had not known the name of it. Happily, Pinocchio could indeed enjoy this dish after becoming a real boy and pass up the larger commitment to sing the opera.

Pisticcio seems to come in a number of variations from the recipe I have used, from complex macaroni and cheese to Greek lasagna to a tortellini concoctions. Pisticcio is a sort of upscale macaroni and cheese with added ingredients and different sorts of pasta. A Greek version (remember the Parthenon, above) includes Greek cheeses and either or both of nutmeg and cinnamon. The origins of the original dish are Greece and Rome, while some factions argue about whether it is Greek or Italian altogether. In either or any case and its many forms, it is delicious.

Faster Pisticcio

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pound macaroni or ziti
  • 1 Medium onion, chopped coarse
  • 1/2 Cup dry white wine
  • 1 Cup grated Greek kefalotyri cheese[sometimes I use shredded Swiss cheese]
  • 1 Cup Romano cheese, Grated
  • 1.5 Cup whole milk or cream
  • 2 Eggs, well beaten in a mixing bowl
  • 1 Pound ground beef or chuck (or substitute ground or shredded pork, chicken or turkey
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg, or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, or to taste
  • 3 Tbsp butter

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Cook macaroni as directed on package and drain.
  • In a skillet over medium heat, cook and stir beef and onion until brown and drain fat.
  • Stir in tomato sauce, wine and salt, stir, and heat to boiling; immediately reduce heat and simmer uncovered until liquid is absorbed.
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Spread half of the macaroni in a greased square baking dish.
  • Spread a layer of beef over the pasta.
  • Mix 1/2 cup of the first cheese with the nutmeg and sprinkle over the macaroni,
  • Add the rest of the macaroni.
  • Add 1/2 cup of the second cheese mixed with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the layer.
  • Add the other half of the beef.
  • Add the rest of the cheeses, combined.
  • In a saucepan, cook milk and butter until melted; remove from heat and stir half of the milk mixture into the beaten eggs to warm the eggs.
  • Mix the egg-milk mixture back into the rest of the milk in the pan; stir, and spoon it all over the beef and macaroni in the baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of either cheese.
  • Bake uncovered until bubbly, about 30-40 minutes.

All-Afternoon Pisticcio

The way I was introduced to this dish was without the pasta squares encasing the various meats and vegetables to make tortellini -- Cooked ziti ("sewer pipe") noodles were used instead.

This is the totellini based recipe from scratch. You can purchase tortellini in the refrigerator case at your supermarket and save time in this portion of the recipe. Although this is a pie, layers canmake a lasagna just as well, using the pie crust between layers in a rectangular baking dish.

INGREDIENTS

Tortellini from Scratch

  • 3 oz pork loin
  • 3 oz prosciutto ham
  • 2 oz turkey breast
  • 3 oz mortadella di bologna or Canadian Bacon
  • 2 cups grated Romano cheese
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Eggs – lightly beaten in a mixing box
  • ½ tsp nutmeg (some cooks use cinnamon instead; I use half of each)
  • Salt & pepper to taste – be careful of salt, since the meat is salty. I skip the salt.
  • 1 Pound fresh pasta
  • 2 Cups beef or vegetable broth

Sauce

  • 3 oz pancetta or if not available, use peppered bacon
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large rib of celery
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ Cup hot milk
  • 3/4 Cup hot beef or vegetable broth
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Other

  • 3 Cups béchamel (white) sauce – from scratch or ready made.
  • 3 Tbsp grated Parmigiano
  • 1 Pound of prepared pie crust
  • 2 Tbsp bread crumbs
  • 1 Egg yolk, lightly beaten (save whites for another dish)


INSTRUCTIONS

TORTELLINI:

  • Dice turkey and pork loin, and brown together butter for 15 minutes. Let cook through, then grind the cooked meats with all of the prosciutto and the mortadella.
  • Combine beaten eggs with the meats, add grated cheese, and season taste.

PASTA SQUARES:

  • Make scratch egg pasta or buy fresh pasta sheets from the market. Divide scratch dough in halves.
  • Roll pasta very thin; cut into 1.5” squares and use a serrated pasta wheel if you have one.
  • Spoon 1/2 tsp filling on each square; fold diagonally and crimp edges closed. Wrap triangles around a little finger, give a half twist, and stick opposite corners together (this is tortellini). Rest tortellini on a lightly floured bread board as you make the rest up.

SAUCES

  • Mince onion, carrot, celery, and pancetta.
  • Sauté all in butter; when onion is translucent, stir in the ground meats. Sautéing until meats are brown and add red wine and 1/4 cup hot broth. Simmer 15 minutes and stir in remaining broth; simmer until liquid is evaporated.
  • Stir in tomato paste and hot milk, season to taste, cover, and simmer until milk has absorbed to leave a thick sauce.

PIE:

  • Preheat oven to 360° F.
  • Place bottom crust into a greased 10”pie pan dusted with bread crumbs and let rest.
  • Prepare 3 Cups béchamel sauce, bring the broth to the boil, and cook the tortellini in the broth until almost done; remove from heat to cool.
  • Cover the bottom crust with a first layer of tortellini, add some sauce, add some béchamel, and add some grated Parmigiano.
  • Continue layers in this manner until ingredients are used up. Roll out top crust, cover pie, and crimp edges.
  • Slit top crust 3-4 times to allow steam to escape.
  • Brush top crust with beaten egg yolk.
  • Bake 35- 40 minutes.

Pie Dough by the Swedish Chef

Meatless Version - Pasticcio di Polenta

BACKGROUND

In certain regions of Italy on the Friday preceding Lent, townspeople celebrate Polentone. They prepare a giant dish of polenta that weighs 1,000+ pounds. Reportedly, they also serve a 6,000-egg omelet and donate all of the food prepared to the poor.

INGREDIENTS & INSTRUCTIONS

  • Cook a recipe of corn meal (polenta) in a pot with only enough water to make it very stiff.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • When the polenta is stiff, turn it out on a clean bread board to cool and mold it first in the shape of the dish you will use for it.
  • Butter a baking dish and sprinkle it with bread crumbs.
  • Cut the cooled corn meal into horizontal layers about 1/4 inch thick and as wide as the baking dish, like cutting layers through on a cake.
  • Place the top slice in the bottom of the dish, crust side down. Dot this layer with butter and 3 or 4 dried mushrooms previously soaked in boiled water for a few hours.
  • Pour a little cream over the layer and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
  • Repeat this process with additional layers until all are used.
  • Bake for three hours or until knife blade comes out clean.
  • Serve with an omelet or scrambled eggs.

A meat sauce or white sauce and meats would be delciious with this one as well.

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Comments 8 comments

RVDaniels profile image

RVDaniels 7 years ago from Athens, GA

Yum! What a clever piece of writing this is!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Thanks RVDaniels - haha - and I know some fancy names for cooking now, too. :)


B.T. Evilpants profile image

B.T. Evilpants 7 years ago from Hell, MI

Wow! I knew if anyone was going to answer this one, it would be you! These look awesome!

As I think back, I think the one I saw was done by Mario Batali, and it may have been a combination of these. He made tortellini from scratch, and the pie crust from the same pasta dough. He filled the pie with the tortellini as well as homemade meatballs, then covered it all with bechamel(that got my attention) and put on the top crust. It looked like a heart attack pie, to me. In other words, it was right up my alley!

Awesome job as usual, Patty! Make sure you send me some when it's done.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Can I send it like Perry Mason used to - just "General Delivery" - to the Hell MI post office? That would work.

I haven't seen Mario Batali's show in a while, but the meatballs sound good.


B.T. Evilpants profile image

B.T. Evilpants 7 years ago from Hell, MI

Oh no, that won't work. That would take way too long! Maybe you should just send me your address, and I'll hop on over for dinner! I make a wonderful house guest. Just ask Shirley!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

Well, since you live between me and Shirley, I say we all meet in your bunker.


alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 7 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

This is a really clever piece. Love the whole discovery process...ending in the recipe, which was there all the time. Loved it!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

It was quite a journey, alekhouse! Thanks for reading and enjoying :)

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