Chestnut flour is among the most important ingredients of the cucina povera of the Tuscan mountains, from Garfagnana and Pistoia to Amiata and Mugello. When the chestnuts become flour, they can be turned into polenta, porridge, bread, cakes, cookies, fritters, fresh pasta and necci (pancakes).
In autumn chestnuts are collected and dried for forty days in a little hut in the woods known as a metato. Once dried, they are ground into flour by millstones. That's why the best time to buy chestnut flour is after the second half of November. Chestnut flour has been known for centuries as farina dolce (sweet flour) due to its sweet taste.
Chestnut four is the key ingredient of traditional recipes from Tuscany: chestnut gnocchi, castagnaccio (a type of chestnut cake) and marocca - a dark break made with chestnut flour. You can also made a pasta from this flour. Necci are thin pancakes with crisp edges made of chestnut flour and water and are eaten plain or filled with ricotta cheese, sausage or pancetta. For making them once they used testi - two flat iron pans. Traditionally the pans were greased with a piece of lard but today cooks also use good olive oil.
Even the mountain regions of Mugello and Amiata are famous producers of chestnut flour. In Piancastagnaio, on the Amiata mountain, you'll find a rich chestnut polenta served with ammazzafegato, a local sausage. The most representative recipe made with chestnut flour is castagnaccio. It is made of chestnut flour, water, olive oil and rosemary.
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