Gastronomica’s Tour of Italy: Valle D’Aosta

The typical dishes of Valle d'Aosta cuisine summarise the fundamental characteristics of this North Italian valley.

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In Valle d’Aosta, people had to organise themselves with the little that nature made available to build on this the castle of a gastronomy, based on the flavours of milk and cheese above all.

Not many pasta dishes characterise this region. Instead, soups and polenta are very common in Valle d’Aosta cuisine, as well as butter and fontina, the protagonist of all fondues, fillings and condiments.

No oil is used in the typical Valle d’Aosta cuisine. Barley, chestnuts, milk, dry bread and savoy cabbage are among the ingredients at the base of tasty traditional soups you can find in this amazing region.

Finally, two exceptional products should be mentioned: mocetta, a prized chamois (or goat or ibex) ham and Arnad lard.

But let’s see some of them closely, three typical dishes of Valle d’Aosta cuisine to try during your next holiday!

Most famous Valle d’Aosta products: fontina dolce, fontina stagionata, Arnad lard.

Most famous dish: Fonduta valdostana (recipe below)

-Fonduta valdostana-

Ingredients for 4-6 people

-400 g of fontina cheese

-40 g of butter

-4 egg yolks

-200ml of whole milk

-white truffle (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

-slices of toasted bread

How to prepare it

-Remove the crust from the fontina, cut it into thin slices and put them into a bowl. Set aside.

-Pour in the milk indicated (or even more because the liquid must cover the cheese) and let it rest for an hour. Without draining it too much, withdraw the fontina from the milk and transfer it to a thick-bottomed saucepan. Add the cold butter into small pieces.

-Place the container in a bain-marie and, still stirring, let the cheese melt. First a compact mass is formed which will then slowly dissolve. When the mixture has reached a creamy consistency, stir in one yolk at a time, stirring quickly, then leave it again in a water bath for 2-3 minutes so that the mixture acquires its typical velvety appearance (at this point decide if, for a more correct consistency, it is appropriate to add a little milk from the soaking).

-Check the salt and season with a pinch of pepper.

-Remove from the heat, pour the fondue into bowls kept warm, sprinkle the surface with thin slices of truffle and serve with slices of toasted bread, better if kept warm wrapped in a napkin.

-Risotto alla valdostana-

Ingredients for 4 people

-300 g of risotto rice

-1 chopped onion

-1 can of chopped tomatoes

-2 glasses of dry white wine

-about 1 l of vegetable stock

-250 g of fontina cheese

-butter

oil

-nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

How to prepare it

-In a saucepan, heat a tablespoon of oil and a knob of butter, the chopped onion, then add the chopped tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. After this time, add the rice.

-Mix well and when it has browned, wet it with the wine and let it evaporate. Bring the risotto to cooking by pouring a ladle of hot broth at a time. A few minutes before removing from the heat, mix the thinly sliced cheese, salt, pepper and nutmeg into the risotto. Stir and serve.

-Polenta concia-

Ingredients for 4 people

-500 g of polenta flour

-1 tablespoon of white flour

-1 1/2 litres of water

-250 g of medium seasoned toma

-150 g of melted butter

salt and pepper to taste

How to prepare it

-Pour the water into a large pan, salt it and bring it to a boil. Add the tablespoon of white flour with two or three tablespoons of yellow flour and, while stirring, drop them into the boiling water. Continue adding the remaining flour until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. Initially mix with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming, and do not add more flour if the previous one has not blended well. Then, when the polenta begins to become consistent, mix with the special stick or with a large wooden spoon.

-In the meantime, remove the crust from the toma and cut it into thin slices. In a saucepan, let the butter melt on a low heat.

-Arrange a layer of polenta on the bottom of a lightly buttered pyrex dish, spread the slices of cheese on top, seasoned with a drizzle of melted butter, ending with a layer of polenta and the remaining melted butter. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes or until the surface has a golden brown finish. Serve immediately at the table.

Buon appetito!

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