[Sca-cooks] Cicera fracta, farinata

Christiane christianetrue at earthlink.net
Mon Jan 28 13:27:11 PST 2013

In researching gluten-free, grain-free period dishes for my Laurel to eat, I came across this entry from the Liber de coquina:

Item, aliter : accipe cicera fracta et pone ad decoquendum cum
oleo, pipere et safrano et cum caseo detruncato et ouis perditis et ouis
debatutis; uel aliter, cum ciceris fractis et perbullitis et, aqua bullitionis
eiecta, ponatur cepa frissa et bene confecta cum lardo uel oleo sicut dies

This one seems to be two recipes for "broken" chickpeas. I know the "galettes of chickpeas" recipe on the Old Cooks page uses whole chickpeas, cooked and then mashed into a paste, and the paste is baked in an oiled dish. But I have been wondering if chickpea flour would be an acceptable substitute in a redaction of this recipe? Also, what kind of cheese are they calling for here in the first part of the recipe? Can't seem to find a translation of "detruncato." Google translate says "detruncato" means "beheaded," and I am not sure "beheaded cheese" is quite what the recipe is trying to say. Unless the intent is "cut up" cheese.

In looking up modern-day recipes using chickpea flour, I have found farinata (Genoese), socca (from Nice), and pannelle (Sicilian sort-of-falafel). I have been messing around with my own version of farinata. It's phenomenally easy to prepare because you don't have to cook and mash up chickpeas (though you have to let the batter sit for at least three hours and skim off the icky foam that develops). Chickpea flour is also pretty cheap. I just pour the batter in a dish, plop in other ingredients, generously pepper and salt it, and bake for 20 minutes.

So for your delectation:

Farinata with bacon, goat cheese, and caramelized onions

2 3/4 cups of chickpea flour
4 cups of cold water
one onion
half a rasher of bacon
1 small log of goat cheese (or half of a large log)

Oven at 375F.

Put your flour into a large measuring cup and add the water; stir with a fork until water and flour are well blended, then cover the measuring cup and let sit for at least 3 hours.

Meanwhile, chop up your half-rasher of bacon into small pieces, fry the pieces until crisp, and set then aside to drain.

For the onion, either fry the thin slices in the bacon drippings, or use olive oil. Once the onions are caramelized, set them aside.

After three hours, you'll notice that the batter is all foamy and separated. Skim the foam from the top of the batter and then remix the batter. Pour the batter into a greased rectangular baking dish. The batter is thin, like pancake batter. Sprinkle the cooked bacon, the onions, and blobs of goat cheese on top of the batter. Dust with plenty of black pepper and a generous sprinkling of salt.

Stick the dish into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. It's done when the sides are just browned and the top is firm. You may want to broil it for another 10 minutes to get the top very browned, or not (I prefer not). 

Let it cool for a few minutes before cutting it up into squares. Can be served hot or lukewarm. Can be carried in the hand and eaten, making it a great dayboard or picnic food. You can make it totally vegan, with no cheese or bacon or eggs (just onions, saffron, salt, and pepper, or add vegetables such as finely chopped spinach or chard). Instead of goat cheese, you can use a fresh cheese like farmers' cheese. You can even use grated parmesan. 

My next version (for breakfasts this week) will feature turkey bacon, beaten eggs, goat cheese, artichoke hearts, and spinach. 


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