The most ancient staple of the rustic Sicilian diet is dried fava bean porridge, called maccu. Because of Polizzi's mountain location, this version contains dried chestnuts, which give the soup a wonderful smoky flavor. Both dried fava beans and chestnuts are available at Italian specialty stores.
1 pound dried peeled (yellow) fava beans
4 ounces dried chestnuts
8 cups spring water
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
The evening before the dish is to be served, put the fava beans in a colander and wash them under cold running water. Check them for stones and other debris. Transfer the beans to a large bowl, cover with cold water, and allow to soak for 12 hours. Clean the chestnuts, and set them aside to soak in another bowl of cold water.
After soaking, remove any brown bits of skin from the fava beans. Drain and rinse them. Using the point of a paring knife, remove the hard brown skin from the crevices of the chestnuts. Drain and rinse them.
Put the chestnuts in a heavy 6-quart pot, and add the spring water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, adjust the heat, and cook, uncovered, at a tremble (barely boiling) for 20 minutes. Add the fava beans and continue cooking for another 40 minutes, until the chestnuts are tender and the favas have mostly disintegrated into a thick porridge. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Check for salt, and serve directly from the cooking pot. Drizzle each bowl with a spiral of olive oil and grinding of black pepper to taste.
Many Beautiful Things
Stories and Recipes from Polizzi Generosa
By Vincent Schiavelli
Illustrations by Santo Lipani
Published by Simon & Schuster
$26.00; 240 pages
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created January 2003
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