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Cicoriella

In Santa Maria del Ponte, a small village in the province of L'Aquila, once a "frazione" of Fontecchio and now of Tione degli Abruzzi, on the second Sunday after Easter the Madonna Addolorata or "della Cicoriella" is celebrated. On the day of the feast the usual dish on every table, from the most modest to the richest, is the "cicoriella", that is the chicory in broth that, being bitter, is to symbolize all the bitterness and sufferings of the black-dressed Virgin Mother.

For the preparation of this dish you need the small chicory, that grows on the Abruzzo fields in spring. The small plants, tending to curl, have to be carefully cleaned, washed, boiled then put in cold water to remove the excess of bitter taste.

Prepare the broth with chicken (actually hen) meat, onion, celery, parsley and carrots and, in another pot, the tomato sauce with ragout.

After that, roast bacon and crumbled sausage in a large saucepan. Drain the chicory from the water, squeeze well with your hands, shred it, salt and let it flavor in the onions and herbs lightly fried in oil. Add to the vegetable the meat sauce and, if necessary, some ladles of broth. Shortly before serving, beat the eggs, join grated `Pecorino' cheese, some spoonful of cold water and pour the mixture onto the chicory. Finally add the hot broth and serve.

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