“Paparot”: This must be the most charming name for a dish – a substantial, garlicky soup from Friuli Venezia Giulia: spinach, corn/maize flour and sausage meat. It is one of those dishes where the final result is far greater than the list of its ingredients might suggest. The spinach is first cooked and chopped, then it is added to a base of lardo (or pancetta or butter), garlic and/or sausage meat. When the spinach has absorbed all these lovely, porky flavours (in Italian cookery terms, we call this all-important step insaporire, which translates as “to make tasty”), corn or maize flour is added and then water (or broth, if you have it). The soup is then cooked for a good hour. It’s quite basic, as you can see, and not much to look at, perhaps, but the flavour is very good, if you like this kind of rustic, elementary food.
In the old days, wild herbs would have been used and the cooking liquid would have been water. Lardo or pancetta is present in moderation, just to make the overall flavour fuller but I have also made paparot with butter only and I liked that way too. Paparot can be as thick as you wish it to be. I have made it as a proper minestra (soup) and also as a more substantial polenta & spinach dish (by reducing the amount of liquid). If you go down this way, some grated Parmesan is a nice touch at the end (or aged Montasio cheese, if you are so lucky to find it). A warming winter supper indeed.
Only marginally adapted from Le Ricette Regionali Italiane by Anna Gosetti della Salda
Spinach, 1 kg
polenta flour, 140 g
plain flour, 80g
minced lardo or crumbled sausage meat or chopped pancetta or butter, 80 g
meat broth, 2 lt (or water), hot
garlic, 2 cloves
Steam the spinach, drain, squeeze it dry and chop up. In a soup pot, melt the chosen fat and a little olive oil with the garlic. Remove the garlic when it is golden – do not overdo it. Add the spinach and let it absorb the fat. Add the two flours and stir well. Gradually add the hot liquid, whisking all the time. Cook very slowly for about 45/60 minutes – it really depends on the type of polenta flour one is using. Serve with black pepper.
In some contemporary versions I have seen lardo AND crumbled sausage meat being used together – a bit OTT, perhaps.