Colorful confetti paper pieces cover streets everywhere in Italy during Carnevale. Today marks the end of the Carnevale season with Martedì Grasso aka Fat Tuesday. The list of Italian savory and sweet dishes eaten today is endless.
In Boston, my family gorged on pasta al forno, a pot full of greens and three types of cooked pork, and ricotta pie. These traditions came from the small towns of Siano and Avellino in southern Italy. Every family has a different menu. Near Naples, my family cooks a beastly lasagna. My mouth waters every time I think about the freshly rolled sheets of pasta layered with tomato sauce, cheese, meatballs, and other secret ingredients.
The dessert is migliaccio. What is migliaccio? A traditional semolina and ricotta pie made in Naples to celebrate the end of Carnevale. It’s delicately flavored with citrus zest and deceivingly light. If you like custard you’ll love migliaccio.
Ingredients for 6 portions
1 cup (200 g) semolina
1 quart (approximately 1 liter) milk
3 lemons and 3 orange, preferably organic
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
1/2 cup (100 g) butter or lard
1 1/5 cup (300 g) ricotta cheese
confectioners sugar to decorate
Peel lemons and oranges. Be careful include only the peel, not the white pith, which is bitter. Chop into fine pieces. Put peel in a small saucepan and cover with sugar. Place over a low flame. Cook until the peel is translucent and soft. Place the milk, butter or lard in a pot on medium heat. As soon as bubbles appear on the surface of the mixture, remove from heat. Add the semolina in small batches while stirring continuously to avoid lumps. Add the citrus peel.
In the meantime, whisk the sugar with the ricotta. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs. Once the semolina/milk mixture is cool, add the ricotta and eggs, gently stirring until fully combined. Butter a 9-inch (24 cm) round pie dish or line with baking paper. Pour the batter into the dish.
Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The surface and bottom should be caramel in color. Remove from oven, cool, dust with confectioners sugar and serve.