The batarò is a typical sandwich of the Val Tidone, a hilly area in the province of Piacenza. Cooked in a wood-fired oven, it is eaten stuffed with typical cold cuts, coppa and pancetta
on hills of the Val Tidone, in the province of Piacenza, the batarò it has the scent of lost time. Those in the area know well the "violent joy" that is unleashed at the first bite of this particular sandwich, the same one that Marcel Proust described talking about his madeleine soaked in tea. It is not really about taste, but about memories. Those related to childhood, when mothers, grandmothers and aunts, on the day they made bread, set aside a bit of dough to test the temperature of the wood-fired oven and while they were there to prepare children's snack. These were the days of family lunches, afternoons spent playing on the farmyard or hide-and-seek among the bales of hay. And, before that, when the peasants from the little they had knew they could make the most of it.
Batarò, the "poor" sandwich from Val Tidone
The batarò (the final "o" is pronounced closed) is a oval and thin sandwich, made to swell a few moments after the first contact with heat, without crumbs, ideal for being stuffed with Piacenza cold cuts, coppa and pancetta, and appreciate its taste and texture. The batarò "perfect" they say is the one with "Pancetta e zola" (gorgonzola), especially if bitten as soon as it comes out of the oven. For the sweet version, just add sugar or honey, or Nutella. There recipe It is born "Poor", from the union of the bread dough with the leftovers of the polenta, but behind its simplicity is hidden a sum of adjustments, balances and know-how handed down that ensure that success is achieved only thanks to perfect execution.
Ingredients and recipe
That proposal below is one of several variables collected by talking to some "rasdùre" of the place, women who still remember the day when the perfect batarò came out: that there were weather conditions, what doses they had applied, how much wood was in the oven, "because it is difficult for it to always be equally good to itself". These the ingredients: one kilo of soft wheat flour, corn flour, in a variable percentage between 10 and 30% according to taste, 25 g of yeast, 500 ml of water, 50 g of extra virgin olive oil, 10 g sugar, 20 g of salt.
Proceed step by step
Blanch the cornmeal with a portion of boiling and salted water and stir until it is completely absorbed (there are those who use milk instead of water). Once the mixture has cooled, add it to soft wheat flour, mix and add the yeast previously dissolved in a bowl of warm water with a teaspoon of sugar. Mix everything, add the rest of the water and knead until you get a soft but compact compound. Leave to rise for a couple of hours or so. Once the mass has doubled, knead again and let it rise for another half hour. At this point form balls as big as a fist then roll out the dough, pull it with a rolling pin or with the machine, beat it (hence the name) and bake. The temperature of the wood-fired oven is one of the decisive elements. This must be high, but not too high, and the batarò must not be near the flame otherwise it will burn. Wait for it to swell, then turn it over and wait a few more minutes. Those who do not have a wood-burning oven can try to use the home oven at 250 ° for 5-10 minutes, but the result, as we know, will not be the same.
From a festival at De.Co., a story of rediscovery
Until a few years ago its preparation was still relegated to a purely family environment. One of the few opportunities to taste it, outside the domestic circle, was the historical festival of Sala Mandelli, a festival that takes place in this small hilltop hamlet every first weekend in September (this year from 6 to 8). Or he could be found in a couple of pizzerias between Pianello and Trevozzo. Today, thanks to the rediscovery of ancient flavors (and knowledge), the batarò has regained space in the local food culture. This is also due to the path taken by the municipality of Nibbiano (now Alta Val Tidone) which led to the recognition of the batarò as product De.Co. (Municipal denomination of origin). First he started to depopulate in village festivals, in particular those organized by the Pro Loco of Trevozzo, then in other places both in Piacenza and in the province and now it is found even beyond the borders of the province, in particular in Genoa in the local Batarò – Peasant Sandwich, format created by chef Danilo Gatti.
"Serata batarò" at the Belrespiro restaurant, a breath of fresh air
Remaining in the area, instead, ad Agazzano there is a restaurant, the Belrespiro, which this summer organized the "Serata batarò", an initiative that will continue also for every next Wednesday in September. The chef Fabio Delledonne and his crew are working hard to bring out the Piacenza cuisine from its stereotypes and enrich the tradition with a breath of freshness. They do it all year round, but perhaps the maximum expression of this enterprise lies precisely in the reinterpretation of the batarò, where the perfect execution of the sandwich (respect for tradition) is combined with a proposal of fillings, some of which are completely new (innovation). The prevail are the quality and the refinement of raw materials combined with some well executed special workings. The menu speaks for itself, in particular two courses: Batarò with an old Piacenza cow tartare cut with a knife, horseradish, marinated egg sauce and Trombolotto; and Batarò with a frayed pork shoulder, osmosis cabbage, yogurt foam.