That the Sicily is one of our greedy deposits where street food abounds can be said without hesitation. There is no corner of the island without ovens, delicatessens, simple kiosks offering tasty specialties traditional: from arancino / a – which with specific endings and variations is found throughout the region – to a myriad of oven-baked delicacies similar to pizzas and focaccias: from the Palermitan sfincione to the Catania-style cartocciata, to the Messina python. Also Ragusa has its own typical product, similar to no other: the scaccia, widespread throughout the area of the Iblei mountains. It is a thin layer of dough, folded several times and seasoned as the layers are made up. The ovens prepare it mostly in "maxi" format, to be cut into large slices, but it can also be single-portion and crescent-shaped, closed in pinches with the "rieficu", the typical cord.
Fillings in infinite variations
The popular cuisine of the past was teacher in combining a few, genuine products, easy to find and the Ragusa meat is no exception. As in most rustics, its seasoning is simple. The recipe recognized as more classic includes tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil and Caciocavallo ragusano, today Dop cheese. From the unusual parallelepiped shape – which seems to have been made specifically to cut it into regular slices – this excellence of the area becomes more spicy after the first months of seasoning. It is certainly its flavor that gives the "zing", as a gastronomic criticism would say, to scaccia, bite after bite.
There are also a thousand other traditional fillings because, for the convenience of transport and consumption, the chase was once the meal that you brought with you when you went to work in the fields; so he stuffed himself with the vegetables, mostly eggplant fried and sautéed with tomato, or Fava beans is ricotta cheese, or again broccoli, according to the season. Just the type of filling has always been a controversial topic between Ragusa and the neighbor Modica, where the stuffing is also made with parsley and anchovies, and each city claims birthplace and original recipe of the scaccia. Probably, more than this diatribe, it is the infinite variations handed down in each family from mother to daughter that have not yet allowed the definition of a disciplinary that allows to register the Ragusan expulsion with the denomination – municipal or community – that would deserve a typical product and as old as bread itself, not yet fully valued and known outside Sicily.
The right wine
Nero d'Avola is the most important grape of south-eastern Sicily, widespread between the provinces of Syracuse and Ragusa, sometimes combined with pignatello, as in our case: the Eloro Pachino of the Salvatore Marino farm is the companion ideal of a rustic and immediate food, whose Mediterranean intensity and harmonious softness are shared by the blood and salty carnality of a simple, frank and generous red.
The word to the producers
For four years Fabrizio Occhipinti, with his wife Roberta, has started the artisan production of Scaccia ragusana, taking up the tradition of his grandmother Giovanna, on sale with the brand "le ragusane" at Delicatessen del Ragusa gastronomy, but the aim is to market it cooked and vacuum.
What ingredients do you use?
Quality raw materials produced within a radius of 20 km. I use stone-ground whole wheat flour from the soprano mill, which has selected local varieties of ancient grains such as Castiglione and Russello. As cheese I use the aged Caciocavallo ragusano, for the tomato sauce I get supplies from an important company in the area that processes cherry tomatoes.
How does the dough work?
I use whole wheat flour to get the flavors of the past. Being a "live" product, there is no need to add yeast. I work the dough without oil which I only add at the end, because first it would risk waterproofing the flour. After the rest, I divide the dough into loaves to obtain portion scaccia.
Tips for cottura?
In the home oven, the scacce by portion cook at 200 ° for 20-25 minutes, if the oven is ventilated 10 minutes longer.
Giummarra bakery, Ragusa
Not far from the cathedral, open since 1950, it is among the most renowned bakeries in the city for bread and the wide choice of homemade scacce: stuffed with chard, spinach, aubergines, provola.
Distefano bakery, Ragusa
Selected grain bread, various types of scaccia, biscuits and party desserts produced by Giovanni Distefano which carries on the family tradition.
The baker Guastella, Ragusa
For generations, the Guastella family has been producing bread, scaccia, rustic and sweet specialties: breadcrumbs, cubaita, ricotta cake, cassatine, martorana fruit. The flours used (tinillia, russello, Senatore Cappelli and daisy), are zero km and stone ground. Sale also online.
San Giuseppe bakery, Marina di Ragusa (Rg)
Small restaurant in the center of the seaside resort offering bread, biscuits, arancini, pizza and scacce: with tomato and onion, tomato and cheese, aubergines and sausage.
Delicatessen in grocery store, Ragusa
Gastronomy also takeaway with sale of local products: in addition to fruit and vegetables at zero km, specialties such as bread, cheeses, salami and scacce "le ragusane" by Fabrizio Occhipinti
by Paola Mancuso
photo by Laura Spinelli
from Sale & Pepe Magazine April 2020