South of Tuscany, among vineyards and grazing lands, not far from the sandy coast, stands Manciano: a town located on the top of a hill boasting some of the best panoramic views of the Maremma.
With a central position, Manciano is a perfect starting point for exploring the countryside: Pitigliano, Montemerano and Saturnia hot springs. It's a land of strong rural traditions and great pecorino cheese, perfect for stuffing Ciaffagnoni, local savoury pancakes made with water, eggs, flour and salt.
When Caterina de Medici married the Duke of Orleans in 1533, second son of the king of France, she took cooks and pastry chefs with her and packed her suitcases with extra-virgin olive oil and pecorino cheese. She took to France the smells and aromas of Tuscan cuisine and her recipes were enjoyed to the point that they became actual French specialties. Local people said that one of Caterina's cooks were from Manciano, so ciaffagnoni could be the ancestors of the famous French crepes.
Ciaffagnoni is a family recipe. Generally, you can only find them during Festa delle Cantine, every year in September (when the best ciaffagnoni are made).
Nevertheless, some local restaurants as La Filanda offer this specialty all year round. Barbara, La Filanda's owner and chef use to prepare them stuffed with local meat (Maremman breed of cattle), with ricotta and vegetables or in a pumpkin cream. "But mostly people love them the traditional way: stuffed with local pecorino cheese!". Here is her recipe:
Follow these steps to try our hand at making Ciaffagnoni:
Mix all the ingredients together and let the mixture stand overnight. The dough will be ready when there’s no foam on the surface.
Take an iron pan, grease it with a piece of lard, take the mixture with a spoon and pour it in the middle of the pan and proceed as for the preparation of crêpes. They must be so thin (almost transparent) so that they’re see-through.
When they are ready, very hot, sprinkle with grated pecorino cheese and enjoy!