Maria Amelia di Borbone
Caserta, 1782 – Claremont, 1866
Life and History
Maria Amelia was the daughter of Ferdinand IV, King of the Two Sicilies, and Maria Carolina of Austria. She was married in Palermo to Louis-Philippe d’Orléans, the future king of France, and became the French queen. The couple had eight children and gave them a traditional education like their mother had received, and a liberal education like that of their father.
Like any good Napoleon princess, Maria Amelia was a good cook and loved maccheroni with ragù, a passion she shared with Louis-Philippe. The meals served in the Court of Louis-Philippe were quite informal and shocked the French aristocracy. The queen did not mind getting her hands dirty preparing maccheroni alla napoletana and would advise her guest how to dress the pasta: “add a little bit more Parmigiano…And on top of the Parmigiano, you should absolutely add more sauce.”
She would always insist that her guests “take more, they are good.” With all ceremony and formality of the previous Court cast aside, the King used the maccheroni as a way to measure the faithfulness of his courtiers. Tasting, eating and accepting a second serving of the maccheroni prepared by the Neapolitan queen meant that you were open to change and not bound to the former king, Charles X. From that point forward, maccheroni held a political role.
Neapolitan Ragù (Meat Sauce)Ingredients (serves 6)
- 1 lb lean beef
- 5 oz tomato sauce
- 2 ½ oz tomato sauce
- 1 ¾ oz lard
- 1 ¾ oz lard
- 3 ½ oz onions
- 5 basil leaves
- dry red wine to taste
- salt to taste
Lard the beef with the lard cut into strips; if necessary tie the meat with kitchen string. In a pot, preferably a crock pot, melt the clarified pork fat; then add the meat and basil leaves, little salt and a glass of water: bring to the boil and put the lid on.
As soon as the water has been absorbed, baste the meat with red wine. In another pot, heat up the tomato purée with the tomato concentrate and two glasses of water. Once the wine has evaporated, pour a little tomato sauce on the meat and add the finely chopped onion; continue to cook over a gentle heat adding the tomato sauce bit by bit.
Since the cooking must be long and careful (about 6 hours), keep an eye on the pot and add water if the meat sauce gets too dry. Once the meat is tender, it can be taken out of the pot and used ad a second course, accompanied with vegetables.
The meat sauce must be thick, glossy and dark, and it is better if prepared one day in advance; in such case the excess fat sets on the rim of the pot and can be removed. With the meat sauce dress 500g of maccheroni (or other suitable type of pasta) cooked al dente; dress in layers into a large tureen sprinkling a generous handful of grated pecorino cheese on top.
G. Traglia, Il lunario della pasta asciutta, Milano, Ceschina, 1956;
W. Passadore, Famosi e golosi: a tavola con i personaggi della storia, Bologna, Fuori Thema, .