OK Google, which is the typical recipe for the Italian Christmas dinner?
You may try asking this to Google or to your Italian friends, but you will be probably surprised to get dozens or even hundreds of different answers to this question. The right answer is that there is no particular Christmas dish in Italy that can be found on the table in every single Italian family. The key to understand this Italian peculiarity is not to think of the whole country but of every single region. The Christmas eve menu differs from one region to another reflecting the characteristics and flavours of the local environment.
Does this mean the Italian regions have nothing in common concerning the Christmas traditions?
Surely, they do have much in common. And the main common thing about the Italian Christmas dinner all over Italy is that it brings together each and every Italian family, no matter how long its members live one from another.
Another common treat of all the Italian regions when it comes to the Christmas dinner is that it lasts for hours and often starts at lunchtime. The Italian Christmas dinner includes at least 5 courses. It begins with a starter. Then the first course follows which is often pasta or a soup. The second course can be meat- or fish-based, but more often there are more than one second courses. The final course is a dessert accompanied by a sweet or sparkling wine. Every Italian family tends to keep with the traditions of the older generations, so the Italian Christmas dinner often includes the grandmother’s recipes adored by the whole family.
The Italian Christmas dinner recipes of different Italian regions.
Lazio: Roasted Lamb and Potatoes. A main course made from lamb braised with garlic, rosemary, vinegar and anchovies.
Lombardy: Stuffed Capon. Capon stuffed with ground meat, egg, Parmesean cheese and mortadella. Served with mostarda di Cremona, a spicy candied fruit condiment.
Apulia: Grilled Eel. Grilling the eel eliminates the excess fat and makes it easier to digest.
Sicily: Crusty Baked Pasta. Macaroni in pork sauce baked in a breadcrumb-lined pan.
Basilicata: Cod with Fried Peppers. Sun-dried bell peppers dropped into hot oil for a few seconds top this codfish dish.
Liguria: Lean Gurnard. Ancient traditional recipe made with fish and vegetables.
Calabria: Homemade Pasta with Meat Sauce. A type of pasta (also known as fileja) usually served with a pork-based sauce.
Campania: “Married” Soup. Eggs beaten with hot pepper and bits of veal are added to a base of chicory and escarole in a capon broth.
Emilia-Romagna: Tortellini In Broth. A must. Homemade egg-pasta is rolled paper-thin to wrap up little bits of meat-based filling, cooked and served in hot broth.
Abruzzo: Cardoon Soup. A soup made of broth and cardoons (artichoke thistles), flavored with nutmeg and giblets.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Turnips and Sausage. Typical winter dish made of pickled turnips and a special cooked pork sausage.
Marche: Marche Lasagna. Baked pasta dish made with ground beef, sausage, chopped chicken, cured prosciutto ham and sometimes mushrooms.
Veneto: Cod and Corn Porridge. This codfish dish may be prepared with or without tomatoes.
Molise: Breaded Cod. Breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, oregano, raisins, pine nuts and walnuts enhance this cod recipe.
Piedmont: Boiled Ox. Boiled ox, Piedmont style, served with typical local green and red bagnetto sauces.
Tuscany: Chicken Liver Canapés. Chicken liver pâté with capers and anchovies spread on slices of bread, preferably stale and softened with broth.
South Tyrol: Dumplings. Bread dumplings made with a variety of ingredients, typically served in soup or with a melted butter or meat sauce.
Umbria: Stuffed Pasta Soup. Both the broth and the pasta filling are made with capon.
Sardinia: Home-style Ravioli. Ravioli stuffed with fresh sheep cheese, chard, nutmeg and saffron.
Aosta Valley: Beef In Red Wine. Strips of meat marinated in red wine and herbs sautéed with cured pork fat (lardo).