I first came across this noodle many years ago, while working with an old Italian man that had palms the size of saute pans. His name was Raphael, his hands knew nothing more than how to make dollars. He was an “Old World” chef, turned owner with a heavy influence on his kitchen. I was implementing a butcher program and we spent hours standing side by side working over a shared prep space. He would talk to me in a way that married nostalgia and methodology; telling me how to benefit from utilizing pork trimmings from the loins & fillet to recreate a “Filleto Di Maiale; just add olives, some red wine, a little… you know” he would say while swirling his knife to imitate swirling a saute pan about to be deglazed, “Mmm, over a little pasta. Like when I was a kid;” He would go, all glazy eyed, before remembering where he was… “before this world went to hell.” he finished. A real peach, that Raphael. One of the things that would stick with me was a pasta he called Corzetti. He never made it and it was never on any of his menus, but he talked about it like it was gold. It was his home. He had a memory of something from another time that impacted him so much, that years later he still re-lived it’s legacy often. I needed to know what he was talking about.
Corzetti: A round, disc shaped noodle. Relatively thin, approximately 2 inch in diameter and bears the markings of the decorative stamp from which it was pressed. This is a fresh pasta typical of the Ligurian cuisine of north west Italy. This particular noodle may also be refered to as Corzetti Stampae (meaning : pressed or stamped). The Tool used in fashioning this pasta is typically made from Italian woods from where the pasta bears its roots.
Like any great historical pasta… This disc roots back to Italy. So I started my research in the pasta “motherland.” I began reaching out to Italian Chefs and Craftsmen to better understand the noodle. I started with the first stamp I could find; a generic pattern from a california based company.
Because we have never been awarded the luxury of “financial freedom” and the ability to travel at will… I relied heavily on the Internet, Research & Development an execution to work this recipe out. Hours of emails, recipe development and practice produced what we have come to know as our own Corzetti.
The first corresponse established in Italy was a small family owned business under the name Corzetti del levante ligure. I was able to exchange emails with a craftsmen named Thomas. After weeks of deciphering Italian emails, I learned a history on the production of both the stamps & the pasta. Thomas ran a family owned business that specialized in the production of hand carved stamps forged from olive wood. I sent him a stencil of our logo and a branded image and he did the rest. The finished product was remarkable.
From there I set to work on the recipe. The pasta is not only unique in shape, rather the recipe calls for a dry/bitter white wine. I spent weeks pouring over information on the pasta dough. I had ideas of where this could go but I reluctantly wanted something that was of “Italian” quality.
Hydration is key to leaving an Impression!
On the bite, you want a firm mouth feel while not overpowering your finishing sauce or creating a pasta that feels as if you’re nibbling on a piece of cement. Ideally, you would have just enough flavor of wine in your pasta to accent the savory notes of your ragout. It’s finicky, but worth the testing.
All Purpose Flour 16oz
Whole Eggs 2ea
White Wine (sweet& tart) 8oz
With this as a starting point, I began to work out the technique. After achieving a desirable noodle, I began to play with the application.
Making a butternut corzetti, accounting for the water activity in the squash and manipulating the recipe to accommodate to the hydration of the squash puree. Or using a dehydrated ramp in place of a fraction of the all purpose flour…
The outcome was extraordinary!
In the photo above is a Ramp Corzetti playing host to a Rabbit Ragout. Taking a technique and craftsmanship and applying it to the confines of my ecology to create a dish highlighting a wisconsin pasta.