A lesson in Milanese and Lombardy cuisine: a chapter on disobedience

From the father of the new Italian cuisine, Gualtiero Marchesi, to the here and now of Carlo Cracco and Luca Sacchi. Together at the helm of restaurant Cracco in Milan, they dissect popular regional tradition and interpret it with new eyes

Left, chef Carlo Cracco and right Luca Sacchi, his

Left, chef Carlo Cracco and right Luca Sacchi, his shadow at restaurant Cracco, Milan. Photo Brambilla-Serrani

There is a model in the disobedience of Carlo Cracco, who opens the morning of the second day at Identità Milano 2024 introduced by our Gabriele Zanatta, and that model is undoubtedly Gualtiero Marchesi. The father of disobedience, but above all the father of disobedience in a historical moment that needed a new way and, perhaps, a new cuisine. He never stood out as a phenomenon, he was discreet; introverted, of course, 'but with a great dose of innovation mixed with disobedience,' explains Cracco. No big words, just ideas. And the supreme and most satisfying idea for the master was none other than Italian cuisine. Over time, he would feed it with new recipes, each one developed not at random, but carrying a message, which is Italianity itself, expressed from time to time by references, colour, and form. The whole of Italy.

This is the stimulus, the starting point for all his pupils, who are left free to grow, to advance, invited to escape from a done and done role, from single passions, from monotony, from the 'monorail', preferring instead plurality, the ability to adapt, and to make the sap of passion bear fruit as in a great tree - the heart is the same, the directions multiple.

Carlo Cracco does not arrive by chance in the presence of this master of disobedience. After all, he was also disobedient. He wanted to be a chef 'out of hunger', and out of that desire to transform 'an appetite' into a passion and a profession. Always innovating, always escaping the obvious, never conforming. And yet, despite his father's mistrust of his choice, the latter never prevented him from persevering, from finding his own way. In the same way, master Marchesi never imposed that single track, preferring freedom to be to repetition. The freedom to be in the kitchen, as long as everything made sense, which we gather from the tale of the present stimulated and corroborated by the actor co-starring in a brilliant, dusted-off and reinvigorated representation of Milanese Lombard tradition: Luca Sacchi alongside Cracco in his restaurant. ‘Luca is a very good pastry chef, but he also knows how to cook, and this is something I really like because it stimulates creativity,’ Cracco points out.

And here are five dishes, all part of the menu that will soon be launched at the restaurant; a journey inspired by tradition, a dense reservoir of ideas all taken not from the great salons of the upper middle class, but from popular cuisine; we are in the homes of old Milan, in its trattorias, but we are also in the province, in the open countryside. This is Culture, History to be bit and assimilate in five recipes, on the stage of Identità Milano.


Busto Arsizio: it all started here, in the butcher's shops where the butcher kept the leftovers of cut meat, collected in a basin throughout the day, and then sold them to the less well-off. This is bruscitt (crumbs), a mixture of minced meat - beef, veal, pork - sold cheaply, like offal. It was never a lot but cooked at length, tinged with red wine and enriched with fennel, it gave substance and flavour to truckloads of polenta, which, instead, satisfied the bellies of large families. 

Bread, polenta and bruscitt

Bread, polenta and bruscitt

Today: they make a bread with flour mixed white polenta - so it remains very soft -, stuff it with beef that fattens the soft mass and fills the palate. It resembles a rose cake, without being flaky, and the braised meat fattens up the soft mass. They brake it at the table and serve it with a sauce that recalls the flavour of bruscitt with all its hints of red wine and fennel, in this case made with roasted vegetables, without meat; it is the aromas that evoke it.



This is a dish that uses a technique usually applied for another ingredient. No rice in this case, but buckwheat toasted like a risotto, bathed in a buckwheat and pork broth, further enriched with charcoal-grilled ham - which accentuates the toasted and roasted aroma - and pork rind, one of the most commonly used ingredients in any soup in the past, which gives protein sensations of fullness and fatness; it fills the belly and tickles the palate. Once the cooking liquid has been absorbed, the grain is whipped like a risotto with an ooil aromatised with sage, Parmesan and chive. With the starchy part of the rice gone, it is only the butter and the cooking liquid that create the emulsion. The sensation of a soup from the olden days, but rich and deep, with a noble flavour, meets the palate. A veil of toasted buckwheat closes the dish; then, cooked apple (to take up the pork/apple combination, a classic) breaks the thread of flavour, while a sage leaf stuffed with braised pork snout, lemon peel and puffed rind sprinkled with pecorino cheese and black pepper enlivens the bite. Zero monotony.


Some dishes need time to fully define their identity and reach the best version of themselves: in other words, they need to mature. Such is the case with Milano che avanza. And here it is appropriate, once again, to take a step back and go to those few true Milanese trattorias where slices and slices of Milanese style veal were prepared and then reheated as needed during service. The leftovers, unless the staff ate them, where preserved and pickled, then presented on the menu as pickled Milanese.

Milano che avanza

Milano che avanza

The idea starts with this changing preparation: first, the carpione, now more delicate, evolved, with a base of white wine, vinegar, honey. The slice disappears, while black bread appears, the one left over after the service. It is dried, soaked in concentrated meat extract and breaded exactly like a Milanese cutlet, with flour, eggs, bread, and fried in light butter. Finally, it ends up in the carpione. Here, the texture and taste are reminiscent of veal Milanese style, but without the chewiness of the meat. To close, a layer of sweet and sour onion.



The bejewelled quail

The bejewelled quail

We travel far away now because the origin, here, is the Persian preparation of jewelled rice, a basmati cooked in spices - turmeric, coriander - a dish that is extremely joyful to the eye; from ancient Persia, it travels and reaches Lombardy and becomes a quail. The basmati, then, becomes a classic saffron rice with a strong acidity enriched with dried apricots, sultanas soaked in white wine, a little cheese and spices - coriander berries, cumin, pink pepper, coriander leaves, chives: this is the stuffing of the quail, sprinkled with fresh coriander and flowers, pure joy. But there is more spice, the aniseed-flavoured creamed spinach. A taste that opens a long, but not that long journey: quail + rice = Northern Italian cuisine.



Cinnamon sorbet

Cinnamon sorbet

‘Perhaps saying pre-dessert is a bit of an outdated expression by now,’ comments Sacchi, ‘this dish is meant to be a passage that closes the savoury course and introduces the dessert - which is a very classic, mouth-watering, rich chocolate soufflé, exactly as you expect it. A passage and not an interruption, without the intention of undoing what has been the path up to that moment, so something even stronger that holds the tone of what you have eaten before.’ How can you kick it up a notch then? With some Cinnamon Sorbet: intense cinnamon extract in the shape of sorbet, semi-whipped cream with reduced and caramelised cream, and salt crystals. The only 'cleansing' element is freshness; there is no acidity because it is neither necessary nor desired, and the chocolate will thus have that hint of cinnamon to bind to and explode.


Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

IG2024: the disobedience


Marialuisa Iannuzzi

Born in Irpinia in 1991, she studied Foreign Languages at university, and then International Studies. But then she followed her heart and so her love for hospitality was born in the New Forest (U.K.). Her love for food had always been alive and kicking.  After manging the hospitality at Identità Golose Milano, today she reports on flavours for Identità Golose. Isa travels, and tastes. She keeps her sensations alive through words.

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