Cjalzons, the spicy ravioli from Carnia

The Cjalzons represent one of the most loved typical dishes of all time in the Friuli cuisine. They are derived from the Hapsburg culinary tradition, which meant the massive use of cheeses of all kinds in Friuli, and only recently have been prepared in a sweet and sour version. In the past, in fact, the two fillings (one sweet and the other savory) were used separately but today they are mixed to create a unique and multi-faceted filling. They are served as a first course, as an aperitif (depending on the quantities present in the dish) or as a single dish, given their rich and complete nature of the ingredients. The dressing is based on melted butter and mature or smoked cheeses with a strong flavor.

Cjalzons, tasty agnolotti from Carnia with a spicy taste

Typical of the culinary culture of Friulian cuisine, the Cjalzons are a delicious ravioli typical of Carnia, called “ravioli carnici” precisely for this reason. The stuffing of the Cjalzons is based on meat, eggs and spinach, expertly flavored, but not only, because said like this it might seem that they are a very simple ravioli. In fact, depending on the occurrences, they are stuffed even with smoked ricotta, raisins, candied fruit, chocolate and much more. The current recipe sees a mix of all the ingredients just listed, which makes a filling with a sweet and sour taste. In ancient times, however, the filling was strictly either savory or sweet, and the ingredients therefore were not mixed with each other.


Origin of the Cjalzons and their variants

The original Cjalzons come from the Hapsburg culinary tradition, which actually influences all the Friulian cuisine, from the main courses to the desserts. They are filled with butter, smoked ricotta and Stravecchio cheese. The Stravecchio is not easy to find, unless you live in the Carnia areas. This is an extremely mature cheese (+24 months) but that nevertheless presents, in spite of the typical bright-colored paste, a pleasantly sweet taste, and not at all spicy. It is a strong cheese, which should be served with all those very full-bodied red wines that “stain” the glass, and that we strongly suggest you pair with your Cjalzons, if you decide to prepare them at home or to taste them at a local restaurant or trattoria.

The original Cjalzons recipe

To prepare the Carnia Cjalzons you will need:

  • 250g of 00 flour and 3 eggs (for the pasta)
  • 300g of spinach, 50g between raisins and candied citron, 1 egg, 30g of dark chocolate, 90g of stale rye bread, 10g of sugar, 1 egg yolk, parsley, salt and cinnamon q.b. (for the stuffing)
  • 100g of butter, 30g of smoked ricotta and 80g of grated parmesan cheese (for the sauce)

Procedure to prepare the Cjalzons:

  1. Sift the flour on a pastry board and knead it for 15 minutes with the eggs. Wrap the mixture      with food wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
  2.  Sauté the spinach and parsley until cooked (using only the residual water used to wash them) and, separately grate the chocolate, chop the citron and soften the raisins in warm water.
  3. Prepare the filling by combining all the ingredients just prepared with crumbled rye bread and the yolk vigorously beaten together with the sugar.
  4. Roll out the dough prepared for the base, make discs of about 7cm in diameter (helping yourself with a food ring mold or a glass) and stuff them with a spoonful of filling, then close them in a half-moon and seal well along the edges.
  5. Boil the Cjalzon al dente in plenty of boiling water.
  6. To serve them, melt the butter and place the Cjalzons on a small pan, alternating them in layers with the melted butter, the stravecchio cheese and the ricotta cheese. The last layer can also be sprinkled with sugar, for an even more sweet and sour flavor.

Where to eat the Cjalzons in Carnia

The Carnia Cjalzons can be tasted in any restaurant in Friuli, especially in the areas of Udine and Gorizia. Among them all we certainly suggest the Osteria di Tancredi,, in San Daniele del Friuli (UD), theAntica trattoria Da Gaspar, in Tarcento, also in the province of Udine, and the restaurant inside the famous Hotel Neider, located in a small mountain town of Sauris (in particular in the hamlet “Sauris di Sopra”), of the Udine area.

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