• Food & Wine

Christmas and the festive dishes of Lombardy

Christmas is approaching and alongside religious celebrations, there are many other beloved traditions: buying presents, decorating a tree or making a crib, waiting for the arrival of Baby Jesus or Father Christmas and his reindeer with the little ones, until they fall asleep, exhausted... 

Among the customs that have been handed down from generation to generation, the culinary traditions that are renewed every year for Christmas dinner in Lombardy have a clear character that includes customary and symbolic dishes that mustn't be missing.
What are the ingredients of Christmas dinner in Lombardy? In Lombardy and northern Italy in general, the Christmas table is set for dinner on the 25th, and the rich, abundant and varied Christmas menu of Lombardy has just about everything!  

Despite the apparent regional homogeneity, the dishes on the Lombardy Christmas table vary greatly depending to the area. We find an abundance of starters with cured meats, fish, stuffed pasta dishes and risottos, boiled and roasted meats, sauces and mustards, vegetables, cheeses, dried fruit, nougat and the king of Christmas desserts, panettone. 

 

Christmas antipasti in Lombardy: with cured meats, imagination wins
Popular tradition recommends Lombardy's cured meats: sausages (wrapped in a skin of animal intestines) and other products (whole cuts of meat, salted or dried, flavoured and cured) that bear the PGI or PDO marks or are champions of the slow food philosophy, such as Violino di capra della Valchiavenna.    
 
So called because of its shape, the Violino is handcrafted from goat's leg and shoulder, following traditional methods. In the province of Sondrio, in the municipalities of Chiavenna and throughout the Valle Spluga, at Christmas and New Year, it is cut directly at the table while resting it on the shoulder, in a movement that is reminiscent of a violinist at work.

 

Stuffed pasta: the most popular first course on the Lombardy Christmas table
A traditional Christmas lunch in Lombardy would not be complete without stuffed pasta, in capon broth or with sage and butter. One of the most famous first courses served in broth is the agnolini mantovani filled with meat (beef, salamella, pancetta) which has been famous since the days of the Gonzaga family. Also from Mantua are the pumpkin tortelli with a sweet and sour filling (pumpkin, mustard and amaretti biscuits).  

Originally from the Bergamo area, casoncelli can be stuffed with minced meat, sausage, breadcrumbs, eggs and Parmesan cheese, but also with potatoes, salami and spices.     
The bertù, half-moon ravioli from Valseriana, filled with cotechino sausage, parmesan and eggs are also very tasty. 

 

Mixed boiled meats and roasts, royal second courses for the festive meal 
According to Lombardy's culinary tradition, meat is a must on the Christmas table. The classic recipe for one of the most famous festive dishes, Milanese mixed boiled meats, which is called 'el less' in dialect, includes the most diverse cuts of meat: rump, tongue, and tail of beef, calf's head, pork sausage. 
The preparation of the boiled meat is long, but the process is easy. Soak beef and veal in boiling water containing onion, celery, carrots and salt and leave to cook for more than 2 hours. The head and cotechino sausage are cooked separately, each for a further 2 hours, and combined at the end. 
What should accompany Lombardy boiled meats? Strictly speaking, mostarda di Cremona, in which the sweet taste of cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, mandarins and figs, whole or in pieces, is combined with the  spicy flavour of mustard. Mantuan mostarda, made with quinces and whole pears, is also excellent.

 

It wouldn't be Christmas without panettone, in Lombardy and around the world.
Interestingly, there is also Japanese panettone, made with azuki beans, candied yuzu and butter, flavoured with tea from the Land of the Rising Sun! The worldwide renown of panettone - a leavened cake made with eggs, butter, sultanas and candied citron and orange peel - is undisputed. Since the 15th century, every self-respecting Christmas lunch has featured it.

Legend has it that the young Toni, a scullery boy in the kitchens of Ludovico il Moro, made up for the lack of dessert on Christmas day, which had unfortunately burnt, by bringing to the table a dessert he had cooked himself using the leftovers in the pantry. El pan del Toni (meaning 'Toni's bread'), the panettone, was a success!     
Today, the typical Christmas cake from Lombardy is produced industrially and by-hand at very high levels. There is even an organisation called the Academy of the masters of sourdough and Italian panettone, set up in September 2020, to protect the tradition, history and quality of this wonderful Christmas cake throughout the world.
 

On the same topic

Salame di Varzi D.O.P.

Il Salame di Varzi è un’eccellenza a marchio D.O.P. e un prodotto tradizionale della Valle Staffora
  • Food & Wine
Salame di Varzi

The appetizers of the Lombardic tradition

We bring the traditional Lombardic gastronomic culture back to the table, starting with appetizers
  • Food & Wine
The appetizers of the Lombardic tradition

Where to eat in Valtellina

Valtellina cuisine is rich in ancient flavors, with a strong taste, but at the same time delicate, which presents foods that can satisfy the most refined palates
  • Food & Wine
Where to eat in Valtellina, here are 4 suggestions

Miccone

  • Food & Wine
Miccone di Stradella

Flavours and aromas of Valtellina

The Valtellina is a place for relaxation and good living, not least because of its inviting food and wine. Let's go and discover it
  • Food & Wine
Flavours and aromas of Valtellina

Local specialties in valtellina

A small area of ​​Lombardy with a rich gastronomic tradition
  • Food & Wine
Local specialties in Valtellina

Taleggio

Taleggio DOP, a great talent of Italian cuisine makes Italians good forks, true gourmets
  • Food & Wine
Taleggio

Tripe a la Milanese Recipe

It is a second course based on meat and is ideal for lovers of ancient flavors
  • Food & Wine
Tripe a la Milanese recipe, how to prepare it

Polenta and Misultin Recipe

Well-roasted polenta and salty missolitini to be skipped on the plate
  • Food & Wine
Polenta and Misultin Recipe, a winning combination

Wine and Flavor Trail Franciacorta

Among rows of vines with perfect geometries that cross small villages rich in history, traditions, farms, cellars and signs of human activity: discover Franciacorta
  • Food & Wine
Wine and Flavor Trail Franciacorta,

Teglio, the home of pizzoccheri

The small Valtellina town of Teglio is the home of pizzoccheri, the tasty dish of buckwheat pasta with cheese and vegetables
  • Food & Wine
Pizzoccheri, Valtellina

Eating in Como

Here are some suggestions of where to eat in Como
  • Food & Wine
Eating in Como, 3 culinary worlds and 5 different restaurants

Street food in milan

Street food is the best solution for a quick lunch break and a snack
  • Food & Wine
Street food in Milan

Receipts of Cremona's tradition

Tasty news from the Museum of folk Culture “Cambonino”
  • Food & Wine
Receipts of Cremona's tradition

Wine and Flavor Trail Valtellina

A scenic road through the terraced vineyards
  • Food & Wine
Strada vino e sapori Valtellina, percorriamola insieme

Where to eat in Bergamo

5 typical restaurants to eat in Bergamo
  • Food & Wine
Where to eat in Bergamo? Let us recommend 5 restaurants

Some addresses for great greek cuisine in milan

Greek cuisine is one of the oldest culinary traditions in the world and one of the most representative examples of Mediterranean cuisine
  • Food & Wine
Some addresses for great Greek cuisine in Milan

Summer 2021: celebrating the flavours of Lombardy

Your Lombardy holiday featuring events, festivals and fairs devoted to the flavours and tastes of the region's traditional food and wine
  • Food & Wine
Summer 2021: celebrating the flavours of Lombardy

Oltrepò Pavese, le Vie del Gusto

The tranquil Oltrepò is the home of 36 DOC-certified wines, which accompany a traditional cuisine with its roots in Italy’s remote history
  • Food & Wine
Salame di Varzi

The Best Restaurants in Brianza

... because Brianza is also to be enjoyed!
  • Food & Wine
The best restaurants in Brianza, get a taste of the terriotry