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Spaghetti alla chitarra, also known as maccheroni alla chitarra, is a variety of egg pasta typical of Abruzzo, Italy. Tonnarelli are a similar pasta from Lazio. They have a square cross section about 2–3 mm thick.
Ciriole is the thicker version of chitarra, approximately double the thickness of spaghetti. It has a squared shape rather round.
The name of this spaghetti comes from the tool (the so-called chitarra, literally “guitar”) this pasta is produced with, a tool which gives spaghetti its name, shape and a porous texture that allows pasta sauce to adhere well. The chitarra is a frame with a series of parallel wires crossing it.
The dough consists of durum wheat semolina, eggs, and a pinch of salt. It is then worked and, after a rest, rolled flat with a rolling pin. The dough is then placed on the chitarra and pushed through with the rolling pin, so that the strings of the guitar cut it into strips. Pasta makers from Abruzzo bring down the cut dough by passing a finger on it, as they would “play an arpeggio”.
The tool named chitarra was invented around 1890 in the province of Chieti. Before then, pasta was cut with a special rolling pin with notches to obtain its particular shape.
In Abruzzo, maccheroni alla chitarra are most typically prepared with a ragout of lamb (ragù d’agnello). In particular areas of the Abruzzi the traditional condiment is tomato sauce with veal meatballs, so-called pallottelle.
A dried variation without egg is often marketed as spaghetti or maccheroni alla chitarra within and outside of Italy.
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