Posted by: Rabideye | December 15, 2010

Migliaccio: Hearty Southern Italian Savory Fruited Corn Bread

Signore Google suggests there are many recipes for this little-known Southern Italian savory corn flour cake called Migliaccio. But here is my mother’s recipe and method of making this wintertime treat; it’s simpler than most out there that seem to revolve around ricotta cheese, orange blossom water and eggs. Let’s call this a basic, pared-down migliaccio.

It’s usually made in February for the Carnivale, using timely, local food. When the grapes of Autumn have gone shrivelly (but not yet dried), and the wine makers have produced their vin cotto (literally, cooked wine), a syrup made from reduced must (i.e. un-fermented grape juice, boiled down), it’s migliaccio time. But I suppose, fig, plum or cherry syrup will also do, and I suppose any fruit or even maple syrup could work well, but you’d want to up the acidity if using a sweeter syrup, with lemon juice perhaps. There is no leavening in this cake/bread so it’s quite dense and filling. It’s quite unusual to have onions in what appears to be a cake, bu think of it as corn bread with some sweetness in it. It may take some getting used to, and while it resembles  its  close relatives:  panettone, fruit cake, polenta and cornbread, nothing tastes (or even looks) quite like the caramel-coloured, ridgy migliaccio.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cu, fine corn meal (make sure it’s not stale, and not corn flour, but a finer corn meal)
  • pinch salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 small onions (1/2 cup), diced and softened in 1 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cu vin cotto (or plum, cherry or fig syrup)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (semi sweet)
  • 1/3 cup soaked & softened raisins (soften in warm water for 1 hr; drain them first)
  • Boiling water; roiling boil (about 1 1/2 cups; but have 4 or 5 cups boiling)

___

What to do…

  • Preheat oven (350 degrees)
  • In a large bowl, add the sugar and salt to the dry fine cornmeal
  • Saute the onions in a shallow pan and when softened, add them to the corn flour and stir.
  • Then with a ladle, add 1/2 cup boiling water on top of the onions, corn meal, salt and sugar
  • Stir quickly and keep stirring throughout.
  • Add another ladle of boiling water and keep stirring.
  • Add the raisins and chocolate chips, keep stirring.
  • The batter will resemble regular cake batter after a while.
  • Lightly grease a 12″ x 8″ x 3″ rectangular glass pan
  • Pour the batter in and level it out with a fork; this will create cross-hatching stripes all over the top. This will make the top crunchy.
  • Place in oven and bake for 1 hr – 1hr 15 mins.
  • The cake will be a caramel colour all over when it’s done.
  • Cool, sprinkle on some icing sugar all over, if you like.

Variations and additions, when mixing….

  • Add some candied or regular orange or lemon peel
  • Add some cracked pepper
  • Add some ricotta to the mix
  • Add a small amount of orange blossom water or orange (or lemon) extract to the boiling water
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