Pici are big, thick, hand-made spaghetti, typical of the country tradition of homemade pasta. They are made just of flour and water. If you want to make fresh pasta, begin with pici, they are extremely easy to make! They are typical of Val d’Orcia and Val di Chiana, in the southern part of Tuscany.
In Siena, there are two typical sauces for pici, although obviously a few more exist: aglione sauce and bread crumbs roasted in olive oil.
When the garlic is fresh and juicy, I do suggest the aglione sauce. Aglione is a variety of garlic typical of Val di Chiana, it is huge and has cloves as big as walnuts. It has a delicate mild flavour. If you cannot find aglione, use the mildest garlic you can find.
For the pici
Start by making the pici. Pour the flour into a large bowl, then add the salt and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Now add the water little by little, stirring with a fork until a dough is formed. The required quantity of water may be different each time.
When the dough will be too hard to be mixed with a fork, move the dough onto a wooden board and knead by hand to incorporate all the flour. Knead the dough until smooth. You might need more flour if too sticky or more water if you are not able to collect all the flour. Let the dough rest on the wooden board covered by the bowl for about half an hour.
In the meantime, make the aglione sauce. Pour the extra virgin olive oil in a thick bottomed pan and add the garlic cloves, peeled and slightly crushed, the tomato pulp and the salt. Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Now make the pici. Roll out the dough on the board with a rolling pin to a thickness of about half a centimetre. Do not use flour, it won't stick.
Cut the dough with a pizza wheel into strips not larger than a centimetre and get ready to make pici. Roll the pici as they were playdoh worms.
Keep beside you a bowl of semolina flour and dip your picio in the bowl as you go, then wrap it around your hand and put it aside on a tray.
Cook the pici in salted boiling water for about 5 minutes, drain them al dente and pour them into the pan with the seasoning. Toss and serve immediately, sprinkling some cheese on top.