The secret recipe of the Monégasque Barbagiuan

Barbagiuan is a pastry considered a national specialty of the Principality of Monaco, produced from rice, cheese, leek, and pumpkin or spinach. Most local appetisers in the Principality of Monaco are made from either fruits or vegetables.

The Principality of Monaco has always had a rich history in gastronomy, due to a national desire to provide excellence to its residents and visitors. Traditional Monégasque cuisine is influenced by French culture and its main recipes are based on fresh vegetables, rice, and seafood.

Monaco’s national dish is the Barbagiuan – a delicious pastry mainly found in the eastern part of the French Riviera and northern Italy. The Barbagiuan (or Barbajuan) is a fritter stuffed with Swiss chard and ricotta, amongst other ingredients. It is especially consumed on the National Day, 19 November. The word means Uncle John in Monégasque.

Recipe (makes 20 portions)

Ingredients for the pastry:

200g plain flour 

dash salt 

50ml olive oil

1 egg, beaten 

50ml water 

Vegetable oil for deep frying

Ingredients for the filling:

15ml olive oil

30g onion, finely chopped

3og leek (white part only) finely chopped

2 Swiss chard leaves (green parts only), shredded and chopped 

50g fresh spinach, chopped

pinch dried oregano, crumbled

50g ricotta cheese

30g freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

1 egg white, beaten 

Prepare the pastry:

  • Sift the flour and salt into a bowl.
  • Add the olive oil and half the egg white and blend with a fork.
  • Reserve the rest of the egg for the filling.
  • Add just enough water to bring the pastry together as a firm dough.
  • Turn this out onto a lightly-floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 min).
  • Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

Prepare the filling:

  • Heat the olive oil in a shallow pan over medium heat and add the onion and leek and fry until golden (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the chard, spinach, and oregano and fry until the chard is tender (about 10 minutes).
  • Transfer the contents of the skillet to a bowl and then mix in the cheeses and the leftover egg from the pastry.
  • Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool. 

Final preparation:

  • Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to about 2mm thick.
  • Use a floured 6cm round pastry cutter and cut into as many rounds as you can.
  • Gather the scraps, re-roll out and cut again. You should end up with about 20 circles.
  • Place 1 tsp of the filling in the centre of each pastry round and brush the edges with the egg white.
  • Fold the dough over to form a semi-circle and press the edges with the ends of a fork to seal.
  • As you complete each pastry, transfer to a baking tray lined with foil. 
  • Note: at this stage, you can freeze the pasties and then thaw before cooking, or you can cook them right away.
  • Pour vegetable oil into a deep pan (you need at least 4cm) and heat to fry.
  • Working in batches, add the pasties to the oil and fry until brown and crisp (about 5 minutes).
  • Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towels using a slotted spoon.

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