The recipe of the Lunigiana Patona
Patona can be considered as a small, thin bread or loaf, prepared with chestnut flour and water, cooked in Lunigiana since the 15th century. Its name, so peculiar (in Italian it recalls the action of squashing things), comes precisely from the appearance of the dish, which during preparation is crushed and beaten with the hands.
The most striking feature of this very simple product is not so much in its flavor or shape, but especially in the wrapping in which the Patona is cooked: once the dough, made from chestnut flour, water and salt, is quite thick, it is placed between chestnut leaves (usually in groups of three at a time) that have been dried and previously soaked with water.
In Lunigiana, the chestnut tree is in fact known as the “bread tree” because in the past it had proven to be essential for the sustenance of the local population and was used in all its parts: even the leaves, dried, were useful as an ancient “baking paper” for cooking food in the pans, preventing the doughs from sticking to the bottom.
In addition, another peculiarity of Patona is that it should be enjoyed strictly hot, accompanied by cheese and cold cuts.
- Chestnut flour
Note: for a more flavorful and faithful preparation, dried chestnut leaves are needed.
- Wash the chestnut leaves and place them in cold water for about two hours. Afterwards, gently dry them with a cloth.
- In a bowl, mix chestnut flour with water and salt until you obtain a not too liquid and lumps-free mixture.
- Lay the dough into the washed and dried chestnut leaves in batches.
- It is possible to give the patona different shapes and sizes: for smaller one, use two/three chestnut leaves interspersed in a fishbone pattern and folded in half, while for a larger patona, entirely line the baking pan or tray with chestnut leaves and fill it with the dough.
- Bake the patona in a baking tray or oven at high temperatures for about 10 minutes, or at least until the inside of the patona is also cooked.
- After removing the leaves, serve the patona hot accompanied by cured meats and cheese.