In the kitchen of Piedmont’s splendid country restaurants it is usually a woman who rules. Invariably, she has been schooled not by chefs, but by her mother, and her professional accomplishments are founded on the region’s home cooking, a cuisine that, for finesse and variety, is unsurpassed in Italy, or even in Europe.
One of the most gifted of these women is Ilvia Boggione of the restaurant Vicoletto in Alba. Among her specialties is this deft rendition of a classic game bird sauce that is sometimes served with tajarin—thin homemade noodles. To call it sauce may be misleading, however, particularly if one’s idea of a pasta sauce is something juicy and all-enveloping. There is nothing runny or sauce-like about this one. Quail is cooked until its meat slips succulently off the bone, and small bite-size pieces of it are nestled among the pasta strands. A more accurate description of the dish would be pasta with quail.
Homemade noodles make the only satisfactory pairing for this sauce, particularly thick, square shaped tonnarelli; or the broad pappardelle; or fettuccine. In Piedmont (as noted above) they use tajarin, a thin noodle that in restaurants is made almost exclusively from a large number of egg yolks.
© 1997 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.