Friuli offers some extreme varieties of pasta (indeed, we considered calling this book Weird Pasta Shapes!), which brings us to blecs. Made with a sifted mix of buckwheat and wheat flours, this pasta is typically cut into triangles or squares.
This dish is so much more than the sum of its parts—the chicken has surprising depth of flavor thanks to being braised alongside rosemary and an onion. That flavor is supported by the dark and earthy buckwheat pasta triangles. It’s full-on rustic with restaurant-grade flavor. There is no nice way to say it: This dish is ugly. But we promise making and eating it will convince any naysayers.
Notes: Because the braising liquid is reduced to make a final sauce, the chicken stock should be homemade or butcher-bought and salt-free. Do not be tempted to use supermarket stock or low-sodium broth—the resulting dish will be too salty.
You can make the pasta ahead of time, transfer it to a well-floured tray, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate overnight
- To make the dough: Combine the 00 flour, buckwheat flour, eggs and egg yolk, and olive oil.
- In the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flours, egg yolks, olive oil, and water and pulse (or mix on low speed) until a rough dough starts to form, five to seven pulses, or 30 seconds with the machine running. Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a fork. Transfer the dough to the kitchen counter or a clean surface and knead for 2 to 3 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes, or refrigerate overnight.
- Heavily dust a baking sheet or your counter with semolina flour. Cut the dough into ½-inch-thick slices. Keep the dough covered. Working with one slice at a time, flatten it a little with the palm of your hand. Roll the dough through the widest roller setting of your pasta machine (or attachment, if you’re using a stand mixer), dusting with flour along the way to ensure the dough doesn’t stick; don’t use too much flour or the dough will become dry. Fold the sheet of dough in half onto itself and roll it through this initial setting five to ten times, folding it again after each pass.
- Change the machine setting to the next, more-narrow setting and roll the sheet through once. Continue to change the machine setting to the next, more-narrow setting and roll the sheet through. You’ll notice your sheet will become longer and longer as you work it through each successive setting. Keep rolling until Setting 5. Dust a baking sheet with semolina flour. Roll out the pasta dough at a thickness of 1⁄16 inch—the blecs tend to be a little more rustic than, say, delicate ravioli. Lay the pasta on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the rolling procedure with the remaining slices of dough.
- Dust a work surface with semolina flour and spread out the sheets of rolled dough. Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut the pasta sheets into long 2-inch-wide strips, then cut each strip into triangles with two equal sides (isosceles triangles). Transfer the triangles to the prepared baking sheet and set aside.
- To make the chicken: Generously salt and pepper the chicken pieces.
- In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chicken and sear on both sides until golden brown, about 5 minutes, working in batches as necessary. Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.
- Add the onion to the same pot and brown until caramelized, about 15 minutes—resisting the urge to stir too much. Turn the heat to high, pour in the white wine, stir¬ring well to incorporate all the brown bits at the bottom of the pot, and reduce by half, about 2 minutes.
- Return the chicken pieces to the pot, pour in the chicken stock, and add the rosemary sprigs. Bring to a simmer, then cover and braise for 25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Transfer the chicken from the pot to a plate. Reduce the chicken stock until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, fill a pot with heavily salted water and bring to a boil.
- Separate the chicken meat from the bones and return the shredded meat and the skin to the sauce. Cover and keep warm.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until tender, about 3 minutes after the water has returned to a vigorous simmer. Strain in a colander, reserving 1⁄2 cup (or more) of the cooking liquid in case the chicken sauce needs loosening.
- Stir the cooked blecs into the chicken sauce, mixing well, adding starchy cooking water as needed, if you find the sauce too thick. Transfer to individual plates and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.
Reprinted from FRIULI FOOD AND WINE: Frasca Cooking from Northern Italy’s Mountains, Vineyards, and Seaside. Copyright © 2020 by Frasca Food and Wine, Inc. Photography copyright © 2020 by William Hereford. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.