Serves 4 to 6
Pljukanci are traditional in Istria, a kind of pasta made when there was no time to roll, cut and shape pasta dough. Rolling little pieces of dough between the palms of one’s hands was quick and effective, especially if the children got involved to expedite things. My grandmother and other women of her generation were truly expert pljukanci makers. In no time, they would take a big batch of pasta dough and turn it into slim little noodles. Instead of rolling the little bits of dough back and forth for a second or two, my grandmother could compress and stretch a bit of dough into a perfect pljukanci with one swipe of her hands—and flick it right onto her floured tray in the same movement. This delicious sauce is traditionally made with gallinaci or chanterelles, though other mushrooms can be used. Pljukanci are also wonderful with a simple tomato sauce.
Recipe from Lidia’s Italy at Home magazine.
- Ingredients for Pljukanci
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for working the dough
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- Ingredients for sauce
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 1 pound fresh chanterelles or other mushrooms (a mix is nice), cleaned and sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 fresh sage leaves, chopped
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- ½ cup grated Grana Padano, plus more for serving
For the pljukanci, combine the flour and salt in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse to aerate. Combine the water and vinegar in a spouted measuring cup. With the machine running, pour the liquid through the feed tube. Process for 30 to 40 seconds until a soft dough forms and gathers on the blade. If the dough does not gather and is wet and sticky, add a little more flour. If it is dry and stiff, add a little more water. Turn out the dough and knead it briefly until smooth, soft and stretchy. Form into a round, cover it in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
To make pljukanci, cut off a lemon-size piece of dough and keep the rest wrapped in plastic. Lightly flour the work surface and have a floured tray or baking sheet close at hand. Pinch off 6 or so marble-sized bits of dough. Roll each one between your palms, back and forth, into a strand about 2-inches long and drop it on the floured baking sheet as you go. The pljukanci won’t be uniform so don’t worry if some are fatter and shorter or skinnier and longer. Continue to roll with the remaining dough, tossing the strands in flour and keeping them separate on the baking sheet.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta. For the sauce, heat the chicken broth in a small saucepan over low heat. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the onions and garlic. Cook until the onions are softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the sage. Add the mushrooms and season with salt. Toss the mushrooms to coat in the oil. Cover and cook until the mushrooms are wilted and have given up their liquid, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover and increase the heat to evaporate and concentrate the liquid in the pan.
When the skillet is dry, clear a space in the bottom and add the tomato paste. Let it toast in that spot for a minute, then stir into the mushrooms. Add 1 cup of the broth and adjust the heat so the sauce is simmering nicely. Continue to simmer, adding the remaining stock in 2 more additions, until the mushrooms are tender and the sauce is thick and flavorful, 15 to 17 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the parsley.
When ready to serve, shake the pljukanci in a colander to remove excess flour and drop them all at once into the pot. Stir well and return the water to a boil. Cook the pljukanci until al dente, 3 to 4 minutes after they rise to the surface. Transfer to the simmering sauce with a spider, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat the pasta in the sauce, adding a little pasta water if it seems dry. Remove the skillet from the heat, sprinkle with the grated cheese, toss and serve, passing more cheese at the table.