Chestnuts have been an important part of the diet in the Appenine and Apuan regions in northern Tuscany for centuries. Particularly in times of war and famine, chestnuts saved people from starvation.
Necci are a type of pancake made from chestnut flour. They are simply made by mixing chestnut flour with water (250 grams of flour to 1 cup water). The batter is mixed until smooth and slightly thicker than a normal crepe batter.
Each area has a slightly different recipe. Sometimes a little oil and salt is added, or rosemary.
There are several ways to cook the necci. At a couple of chestnut festivals I have seen them cooked between 2 cast iron discs with long handles over a flame. A little olive oil is placed on the flat disc and spread with a potato cut in half, then a small quantity of batter is placed on the disc and spread thinly, and the other disc is put on top. It isn’t as easy as it sounds, you need just the right amount of oil and heat or the pancake sticks to the disc and makes a horrible mess.
Once browned on both side they are spread with ricotta or nutella and rolled up…and eaten.
At a food festival in Lucca we saw a very interesting way of cooking necci. The batter was placed on hot, flat stones covered with chestnut leaves and stacked on top of each other.
This method also proved to be effective, and delicious.
Look for necci at food festivals in the area, or if you are in Lucca, go to Via Buia and look for Pizza da Felice where you can buy necci, along with delicious pizza and cecina, the chickpea pancakes popular in the area.