In Bergamo there are two dishes that are a must at the table: polenta and casoncelli.
The casoncelli, or as they say in dialect, the “casonsèi dela bergamasca”, are real caskets of fresh filled pasta and boast a very ancient origin.
As far as the etymmology of the name is concerned, the term “casoncello” can be derived from caseus, i.e. cacio, cheese, due to the fundamental presence of this ingredient in the filling, or from calzoncino (or filled cassoncino) due to its particular chest-shape.
The origins of Casoncelli Bergamaschi
The casoncelli alla bergamasca are born, like most traditional regional Italian dishes, as a recovery recipe to use leftovers.The ingredients, however, changed according to the social background of those who prepared the recipe: poor families did not use meat for the filling, but limited themselves to using other more accessible ingredients such as cheese, garlic and parsley with the addition of bread and vegetable broth, while for the pasta they used only flour and water.
Richer families, on the other hand, used meat for the filling and eggs for the preparation of pasta.
Over the years, then, the recipe was enriched with the addition of amaretti, lemon peel and sultanas first, and then with the addition of spices.
The Casoncelli Bergamaschi can boast over 630 years of history and since 2016 the Casoncello festival has been established in Bergamo, to be celebrated on May 13.
This date is not accidental, but it is the anniversary of a great popular festival held in Bergamo on May 13, 1386 in which more than three hundred trays of “artibotuli” (the current casoncelli) were served, as told by the notary Castello Castelli to whom this narration is due.
The recipe of Casoncelli Bergamaschi
Here is the recipe of the famous Casoncelli Bergamaschi.
- 200 g soft wheat flour
- 1 egg
For the filling
- half clove of chopped garlic
- a teaspoon of chopped parsley
- 100 gr roast veal
- 50 gr Salami or sausage paste
- 50 gr Breadcrumbs
- 2 g of crumbled amaretti
- 5 g of sultanas
- 1 egg
- salt, pepper at taste
- 50 g Parmesan cheese
- knob of butter
For the seasoning
- 20 gr Butter
- 40 gr Bacon
- Thyme and sage
Prepare the fresh dough by mixing together the flour, egg, water, a pinch of salt until a homogeneous mixture is obtained. Leave to rest for at least half an hour.
In the meantime, prepare the filling by browning a knob of butter with the salami dough, then add the chopped roasted meat, garlic, parsley and let the meat season for a few minutes.
Pour everything into a bowl and add the remaining ingredients, i.e. the parmesan cheese, egg, breadcrumbs, crumbled amaretti biscuits, chopped raisins, ground pepper and a pinch of salt. Mix the ingredients together and add a little water if necessary.
Roll out the fresh dough and make rectangles of about 6 cm, filling them with a spoonful of filling in the middle and close them.
Brown the bacon in butter for a couple of minutes together with some sage leaves. Finally add grated Parmesan cheese.
Cook the casoncelli in plenty of salted water; drain and season.
Would you like to try the real casoncelli, polenta taragna and other Bergamo specialities? Book our food tour in Bergamo and you will have the opportunity to taste all the goodness of the city in a single tour!