Focaccia Agrigento Style    

Impanata Agrigentina

U Cuddiruni

 

Agrigento and its province are one of the richest places in the world for archeological treasures; the culinary landscape is diverse and tastefully reminiscent of its history, folklore and traditions.   

La Valle dei Tempi, Temples’ Valley, where many Greek temples are located, is a territory south of Agrigento, gently sloping towards the sea where Porto Empedocle Vigata, a port city on the coast of the Strait of Sicily, is situated about seven miles away. 


 

Porto Empedocle Vigata

 

The cuisine of this province is very familiar to me because my family has been close friends with the Trapani family, originally from Porto Empedocle Vigata.  We spend festivities, holidays and weekends together, enjoying each others’ culinary specialties and sharing our friendship while having good conversation and good times. 

My brother-in-law, Valentino Amodio, my sister Anna Maria’s husband, is also from Porto Empedocle, and I have had many opportunities to sample the Agrigento cooking style of his family.

Cuddiruni, prepared both by my brother-in-law’s family and by the Trapani family, is a rectangular focaccia stuffed with fried onions, tomatoes, sliced boiled potatoes, anchovies, herbs and cheese. The cuddiruni in bianco, a “white” version, is made using cauliflower instead of tomato. Each family makes different variations, sometimes adding meat, fish or vegetables. 


Those specialties are eaten at picnics, at the beach, at parties and, without fail, for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. 

 

 

Serves 8 

 

Ingredients: 

The Dough 

  • 2 lb flour 
  • 2 oz fresh active yeast or 3 envelopes of dry yeast 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • Water 

Or buy 2 lb. of bread dough in your local Italian bakery.  

 

  

The Stuffing 

      

  • 5 medium onions, sliced ¼ inch 
  • ½ cup olive oil 
  • 1 can (28 oz) Italian peeled tomatoes 
  • Few sprigs of basil 
  • 4 cups boiled potatoes, sliced, about 1¼ lbs raw 
  • Salt and pepper 

    

The Other Essentials   

  • 10 salted filleted anchovies, rinsed (optional) 
  • ½ cup grated Caciocavallo cheese 
  • ½ cup diced Caciocavallo cheese  
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs 
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano 
  • Greased baking pan (13 x 8) 
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil for baking 

 

Preparation  

  

Dough Preparation 

In a bowl, mix ½ cup of warm water with the yeast. Add ½ cup of flour and mix until it is well blended and a soft dough is formed. If it is too dry, add some water; if it is too watery, add some flour. Set aside, covered, in a warm place. After 45 minutes to 1 hour, combine the risen dough with the remaining flour, add some lukewarm water, a pinch of salt and knead to obtain an elastic dough similar to bread dough. Make a ball, cut across the top to allow it to rise again, cover and put in a warm place until it almost doubles in size, 1 to 2 hours. 

 

 

 

Stuffing Preparation 

In a 4-quart saucepan, over a medium flame, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil with the onions and add a pinch of salt. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions release their juices. Place onions in a colander to drain the cooking liquids.

  

OnionsTomato


 

In a 4-quart saucepan, over a medium flame, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil with the drained onions and sauté for 5 minutes or until the onions are light golden in color, stirring frequently. 

Meanwhile, drain peeled tomatoes, cut them in half and eliminate some seeds. Add the tomatoes to the onions.


Lower heat to low, add basil, salt and pepper and simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally. Set aside. If the result is too moist, drain the liquid. Remove basil. 

 

The Assembly 

When dough is ready, split it into 2 pieces. Briefly knead each piece and roll one to cover the greased baking pan (13 x 8). Make sure that the dough goes a little over the edge of the pan. 

Pour the onion-tomato sauce into the pan and evenly spread the potatoes and grated cheese over it.

 

 

Tomato sauceBoiled PotatoesGrated Cheese

 

Add the diced Caciocavallo and the anchovies; sprinkle oregano evenly.

 

Diced CheeseSalted AnchoivesOregano

 


 

Moisten the edge of the impanata with water and knead the other piece of dough. Roll and place it on top. Pinch it all around to make sure it is firmly sealed.
With a fork, pinch a few holes on top to allow the vapor to escape. 

 

Make some indentations with your finger on top of the cuddiruni, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top shake the breadcrumbs over it and then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil on top of the breadcrumbs. 

 

The Baking 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, bake for 15 minutes, rotate and continue baking for an additional 15 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown.

 

Serve hot. 

  

 

Cuddiruni

 

 

White Focaccia Agrigento Style 

Impanata Agrigentina in Bianco  

U Cuddiruni chi Vrocculi  

 

To prepare the cuddiruni in “white,” substitute cauliflower for the tomato. 

 

Prepare the cauliflower as follows 

Cut a medium head of cauliflower into florets, 1½ to 2 lbs; rinse and slice into pieces a ¼ of inch. 

 

In a 4-quart saucepan, bring about 2 quarts of water with ½ tablespoon of salt to a boil. Dip the cauliflower into the boiling water to blanch them and remove as soon the water returns to a boil. Drain and set aside. 

 

Blanched Cauliflowers

 

Gently mix the onions, potatoes and cauliflower, add salt and pepper to taste, set on the side and follow the above directions.