Abruzzese chicken liver & mushroom lasagne with truffle

Recipe from Nino Zoccali's cookbook Pasta Artigiana

This classic Abruzzese dish developed quite a cult following at Caffé Pendolino. It became virtually impossible to take off the menu, which was wonderful for a dish made with offal. As with all baked pasta dishes, it can be made with dried pasta sheets, but it is much better if fresh pasta is used. The addition of fresh truffles can take this dish from great to extraordinary, and if you are ever in Italy during mushroom season and have the chance to substitute the portobello mushrooms for fresh porcini, the dish will become something different again, adding a unique meatiness and sublime flavour. Fresh porcini are the king of fresh mushrooms in my book.

Abruzzese Chicken Liver & Mushroom Lasagne with Truffle


PREP TIME 2 hours

COOKING TIME 40 minutes


100 ml (3½ fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

400 g (14 oz) chicken livers, cleaned and finely chopped

fine sea salt, to taste

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

50 g (1¾ oz) butter

1 onion, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

½ celery stalk, finely diced

1 garlic clove, finely diced

1 rosemary sprig, picked

1 teaspoon dried oregano

600 g (1 lb, 5 oz) portobello mushrooms, sliced

400 ml (14 fl oz) red wine

400 ml (14 fl oz) good quality tomato passata (puréed tomatoes)

25 g (1 oz) fresh truffle, thinly sliced (see Note)

750 ml (26 fl oz/23 cups) béchamel sauce (see below)

300 g (10½ oz) fresh egg pasta dough (see below), rolled into pasta sheets no thicker than 1 mm (1/32 inch)

150 g (5½ oz / 1½cups) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese


Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). in a large frying pan, heat half of the extra virgin olive oil over high heat and fry the chicken livers until sealed. Remove from the pan, season with the sea salt and black pepper, to taste, and set aside.

Heat the butter and remaining extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the vegetables, garlic and herbs until the onion and garlic become translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté until all the liquid has evaporated. Add the red wine and reduce by half. Add the tomato passata and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sealed chicken livers and truffle oil (if not using fresh truffle). Check seasoning and set aside.

To make the Iasagne, grease a 24 x 20 x 5 cm (9½ x 8 x 2 inch) baking dish. Reserve 150 ml (5 fl oz) of the béchamel for the topping. Spread the base with a little of the chicken liver ragù. Place some of the pasta sheets on the bottom of the dish, followed by a quarter of the chicken liver ragù and a quarter of the remaining béchamel. Place some very thin slices of truffle (if not using truffle oil) on top of the bechamel sauce. Repeat three times. Top the Iasagne with the reserved béchamel, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and more truffle. Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes or until the cheese has turned golden brown. Serve hot or reheat later.

Note: As an alternative to fresh truffle, use 2 teaspoons white truffle oil, plus extra for serving.

Béchamel sauce

Makes approximately 850 ml (29½ fl oz)

650 ml (22½ fl oz) full-cream (whole) milk

325 ml (11 fl oz) pouring (whipping) cream

65 g (2¼ oz) salted butter, chopped

65 g (2¼ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour

20 g (¾ oz) freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1¼ teaspoon fine sea salt


Place the milk and cream in a saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. In the meantime, you can make the roux. To do this, melt the butter in a separate saucepan over low heat. Take off the heat, add the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Return the saucepan to the heat and stir continuously for one minute. Add the hot milk in stages, stirring at each stage until the mixture is smooth. Once all of the milk is added, add the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and salt. Cook over low heat for approximately ten minutes or until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Pass through a sieve to ensure any lumps are removed. Cool the béchamel to room temperature, cover the surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate if not being used straight away.

Fresh egg pasta dough

Makes approximately 600 g (1 lb, 5 oz)

330 g (11½ oz) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra, for kneading

70 g (2½ oz) fine semolina

½ teaspoon fine sea salt

4 x 60 g (2¼ oz) free range or organic eggs


Combine the flour, semolina and sea salt and place on a work surface or large wooden board. The flour should form a peaked mound. With your hand, make a hole in the top of the mound so that it resembles a volcano. This hole needs to be big enough to be able to 'house' the eggs. Break the eggs into the hole. With your hand or with a fork, gently beat the eggs, then slowly incorporate the flour into the egg mixture. I do this by moving my hand in a circular motion, slowly incorporating the flour from the inside wall of the mound. Don't worry if the dough looks like a mess. This is normal.

Once fully combined, knead a little more flour into the dough if it feels a little wet and sticky. Set the dough aside and clean the work space. Dust some fresh flour onto the work surface and continue kneading the dough for another 5 minutes. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Next, roll the pasta to the desired thickness and cut into the desired shape.