Rich Italian Sauce

Knowing how picturesque Tuscany is, with its rolling hills of poplar trees, olive groves and sunflower fields we had no idea the scenery would be any different if we visited Aulla, which lies in the heart of the Lunigiana region. Lunigiana is the part of Tuscany that remains undiscovered by tourists. The best way of reaching Aulla is to take a flight to Genoa, then transfer to a hire car at the airport and drive down the coast road A12 until you reach the turn of for Aulla A15.

All along the coast road, keep an eye out for the whales taking a break in the sanctuary of the Ligurian Sea. As you approach Aulla make sure you take in the beautiful mountains in the distance, which at first glance look snow-capped, but it's actually marble! Whilst staying in our friends old house in Aulla Tuscany, we found this wonderful recipe in an old cupboard, we don't know who wrote it or where it originated from so we asked the lovely neighbour (Maria-Grazzia) to translate it into English for us. It is superb with chicken or steak!!

To serve as a sauce accompaniment for 4 people you'll need:

2oz/60g Pancetta, chopped

2tbs Extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2lb/750g Shallots (baby onions)

1/4 cup/2fl oz/60ml dry white wine

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3tbs Passata or homemade tomato sauce

6 Sage leaves, small

2tbs Chopped parsley

1 Handful of fresh bay leaves

1/3 cup/3fl oz/90ml Clear chicken stock

Fry the pancetta, sage and parsley gently in the oil for a few minutes until the pancetta is a light golden colour. Add the onions and cook over a low heat, turning frequently for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle in the wine and let it evaporate completely. Season with black pepper, and stir in the tomato sauce and bay leaves. Add to the onions and continue cooking until liquid is completely absorbed. Sauce is now ready to pour over the meat.

We made this recipe for two people the first time as there was no translation of how many it served. I would say four would be comfortable, but none left over! I have also amended this recipe to our own ingredients, my other half says it tastes even better, see what you think, instead of white wine I used red, also I added a handful of basil leaves (as I had some in the kitchen), I used only 8 small onions (all I had left), 3oz Pancetta and about 5 tbsp Passata, follow the same instructions as before, turns out brilliant!

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