Friuli-Venezia Giulia

Friuli-Venezia Giulia is in many ways distinct from the rest of Italy: tomato is much less popular, and cinnamon and other spices are perhaps more common than in normal Italian cooking: the region was long an Austro-Hungarian province, but it also shares many traditions with the Slovene and Croatian dishes.
Friuli's pride is the exquisite prosciutto of the town of San Daniele, which rates a DOP, though there are also sausages called lujanie and muset, the neck cut called ossocollo and the smoked ham of Sauris. Carnia in the northern region is known for its bacon and Montasio cheese, the primary cheese of the region: fresco (young, about 30 days old, mild, and fairly creamy), semi-stagionato (slightly aged, up to 90 days, and firmer, though not sharp), and stagionato, which is aged up to 18 months (crumbly, and sharp but not too sharp). Each yields a variety of frico -- Montasio fresco makes for a runny frico fondente, Montasio semi-stagionato melts but also forms a crust, and Montasio stagionato has to be grated and makes for a crunchy delight.
Collio, Grave del Friuli, and Colli Orientali are some of the main wine areas. Beer halls of the region feature Viennese sausage, goulash and Bohemian hare. Many of the desserts of the region are flour based, such as strudels. Polenta finds its way into many variations including stirred dishes, baked dishes and can be seen served with sausage, cheese, fish, or meat. Dishes made with pork are often seen and can often be spicy and are often prepared over the open hearth called the fogolar.
  • Frico - cooked Montasio cheese. It can be done in different fashions, with or without potatoes, crunchy or soft.
  • Jota - stew of beans, sauerkraut, potatoes with bacon seasoned with garlic
  • Brovada - turnips preserved in marc
  • Gubana - sweet easteroll with nuts

Grate well-aged Montasio, heat a non-stick pan with just a couple of drops of oil, sprinkle the cheese into the pan in a thin layer, and cook if for a few minutes, until golden on both sides. The frico will be flexible while it's still hot, and if it will be drape over a glass or bottle to cool and firm up it will obtain a cup or basket that will be a perfect container for an antipasto that's not too moist. Figure a cooking time of about 5 minutes per frico.

  • 250 g fresh or moderately aged Montasio cheese, thinly sliced
  • 400 g potatoes, peeled and cut in matchsticks.
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter or olive oil
Heat the fat in a skillet and sauté the potatoes for a few minutes, or until they begin to soften and brown, then add the cheese and continue cooking, shaking the pan every now and then so the cheese gets to the bottom of the potato mixture; once the bottom of the mixture has begun to brown carefully slide it out onto a plate using a spatula (you don't want to break the frico), then invert the frico back into the pan so it end up with the browned side up. Continue cooking the frico for a few minutes more, until the underside is also brown; it should have a crunchy skin and a soft inside. The total cooking time of the cheese will be about 12-15 minutes. Serve it with polenta on the side.
Note: If you cannot find Montasio, use young Grana Padano cheese.

  • 1,5 kg venison meat cubed
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 50 g lard or fat
  • Paprika powder to taste (about a half cup, mixing hot and mild as you prefer)
  • Cumin seeds to taste (figure a teaspoon or two)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • Salt
  • Hot water
Heat the lard in a pot, ideally one made of terracotta, and sauté the onions; as soon as they begin to brown, add the meat, and flavor it with the garlic, paprika, and cumin. Salt to taste, and cook over a moderate flame, stirring frequently. After a half hour, add the red wine, and simmer, adding hot water as necessary for at least an hour. It will be done when the meat is fork tender; at this point stir in the tablespoon of flour and cook a few minutes more to allow the sauce to thicken. Serve with polenta.

  • 750 ml water
  • 120 g polenta
Bring water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Pour in polenta steadily, stirring constantly. Continue to stir until polenta is thickened. It should come away from sides of the pan, and be able to support a spoon. This can take anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes. Pour polenta onto a wooden cutting board, let stand for a few minutes before serving. Can add a little butter or parmesan cheese.

  • 100 g unsalted butter, cold, plus more for bowl and pan
  • 3 3/4 dl flour, plus more for kneading
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/3 dl warm water
  • 1/3 dl plus pinch of sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 dl whole milk, room temperature

  • 1/2 dl golden raisins
  • 1/2 dl walnut pieces
  • 1/2 dl sliced blanched almonds
  • 1/4 dl pine nuts
  • 1/4 dl sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Freshly grated zest of 1 orange
  • 3 tablespoons grappa
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Make the dough: Cut butter into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour over butter and, using your fingers, work butter and flour together until mixture is well combined. Shape mixture into a 4-inch square, wrap with plastic wrap, and set aside in a cool place; do not refrigerate.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together yeast and warm water to dissolve the yeast. Add a pinch of sugar and let mixture sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  • Place 2 cups flour and salt in the bowl; stir to combine. Add yeast mixture, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, egg, and milk; beat together until smooth.
  • Knead in remaining 1 1/2 cups flour until dough is smooth and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes. Butter a large bowl and add dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel; let stand 30 to 45 minutes.
  • Turn dough out onto a well-floured work surface and roll into a large 45x45 cm square. Sprinkle work surface with flour and place square of butter and flour in the center of the dough square. Fold left and right sides over middle, then fold top and bottom sides over that to enclose.
  • Generously sprinkle work surface, top of dough, and rolling pin with flour. Roll dough from middle toward top and bottom, making a long rectangle, maintaining the width but increasing the length. Fold the bottom third of dough up toward the center, then fold the top third of dough over the bottom third, making a letter fold. Turn dough counterclockwise so that the top fold faces right. Flour work surface, dough, and rolling pin and repeat rolling and folding process. Wrap dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours.
  • Remove dough from refrigerator. Let come to room temperature before rolling out.
  • Make filling: Place raisins, walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, orange zest, and grappa in the bowl of a food processor. Process until nuts are chopped and mixture is thoroughly combined.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough into an 18-by-8-inch rectangle. Brush surface of rectangle with some of the melted butter and spread filling mixture over dough, leaving a 2-inch border around the edges. Starting from the bottom, roll dough upwards like a jelly roll into a long rope. Butter a 10-inch round springform pan. Coil the dough rope like a snail and place in prepared pan. Brush top of dough with remaining melted butter. Cover dough with a towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 185 C degrees with a rack set in center of oven.
  • Transfer gubana to oven and bake until golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let gubana cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes before carefully removing sides of pan; let cool completely.
  • To serve, slice gubana into wedges. Gubana will keep wrapped in plastic up to 2 days.