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Once upon a time…picchio pacchio

Once upon a time…picchio pacchio

In the province of Siena the recipe is called ciancifricola but in the Crete senesi they call it Picchio Pacchio, in Petroio spomodorata and in Montalcino “ova” al pomodoro

Picchio Pacchio ciancifricola at Fattoria del Colle

by Donatella Cinelli Colombini

The ingredients are practically always the same, preparation is always similar and the taste is nearly identical, but there are some differences. And not only in the name.



The ciancifricola called spomodorata in Petroio, is prepared with fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped then added to onion. All this is stir fried in extra virgin olive oil. When the pomodorata is cooked the beaten egg is added, together with half a ladle of broth, a pinch of salt and a dusting of black pepper. It is sufficient to stir for a few minutes and the ciancifricola is ready to be served nice and hot.

In Montalcino, I have always eaten “ova al pomodoro”. Here whole eggs are cooked on a tomato sauce so that the egg yolks would be opened by everyone in their own plate. The taste is much richer, and in my opinion, more pleasant with respect to the other Sienese recipes. Maybe my opinion is affected by affection, or even habit, but that is how I like it.

picchio pacchio – ciancifricola Fattoria del Colle version


Picchio Pacchio, which I discovered in Chiusure more than 20 years ago, it is practically the same as the ciancifricola but it comes from a sauce made in Palermo also known as “carrettiera”. It arrived from Sicily at the end of the 18th century . This was when the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo called over from the isle the families able to teach the cultivation of wheat in the arid soils of the Crete Senesi. This became both an economy and a gastronomy revolution for this territory.

In Tuscany where tomatoes are not as good as those in Southern Italy, the recipe has been slightly changed. Here the tomatoes get peeled and transformed into a sauce before being added to the beaten eggs. A real difference comes from transforming picchio pacchio into a soup. In this case the  pomodorata is left quite liquid , hence served on sliced unsalted bread that absorbs the sauce and become delicious.

At Fattoria del Colle however we prepare a hybrid version, a picchio pacchio that is nearly like that made in Montalcino but with a raw quail’s egg on top. To match we serve Chianti Superiore DOCG



A little onion, 3 spoonfuls of olive oil, a kg of well ripe tomatoes, a lt of chicken broth, or even vegetable broth, 4 eggs, salt, black pepper, 4 slices of Tuscan bread made with sourdough



First of all peel the tomatoes and roughly chop them. Chop the onion and stir fry in the extra virgin olive oil, then add the tomatoes, the salt and cook on a low flame for about half an hour. Add the broth and stir into the sauce. Beat the eggs and add to the tomatoes as soon as the boil. Stir energetically when the egg is cooked the soup is ready and can be finally poured into the dishes where slices of bread have been previously positioned



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