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The Cooking and Cuisine of Sardinia


Kevin72
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Foodman, I like how you flattened your malloreddus; it probably helped them cook a little more evenly and quickly.  Was that part of the recipe?

Kevin, I think the recipe in Molto Italiano simply says to "roll them on the back of a fork", I remembered you guys saying that it's better to have them really pressed against the fork so I did that.

Too, there's a Sardinian restaurant in Dallas that uses its own wine vintage that you can buy, but it's a bit pricey for my tastes (like their restaurant  :hmmm: )

Pomodoro/Arcadoro :wink: ...Actually the owners have a very good recipe for stuffed eggplant in an older issue of Food and Wine that I am thinking about making again this month.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Elie, Great meal, that finished pasta in the bowl looks amazing! I love ricotta with pasta.

Kevin, I agree with you on the wine availability, I have had a good bit of Sardinia wine this month so far and its all been very enjoyable especially in the $9-$20 range.

-Mike

-Mike & Andrea

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Pomodoro/Arcadoro  :wink: ...Actually the owners have a very good recipe for stuffed eggplant in an older issue of Food and Wine that I am thinking about making again this month.

That's the one! Never been impressed. Is there still an outlet open in Houston?

Yeap, we do have an Arcodoro right across from the Galleria. I don't think their food is bad, but like you I am not that impressed and would rather spend my cash at Simposio or Da Marco.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I visited an unusually well-stocked Central Market yesterday and cobbled together a meal with Sardinian influences.

If malloreddus was the "thread fad" at the start of the month, I predict that our next collective attention will turn to fregula, the Sardinian version of couscous:

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Guess who owns "Gourmet Sardinia"? The same people that operate Arcodoro Pomodoro in Dallas, it turns out!

I had originally planned on doing clams with fregula, but our seafood counter was overflowing with a bounty of items they normally don't carry, chief among them red mullet! I snapped those up and decided to improvise a main around them. For an appetizer, I bought a few halibut cheeks, then grilled them over bay leaves (my clueless standin for myrtle).

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Probably not even remotely Sardinian, but they were buttery and smokey.

I made basically a modification of the clams recipe and adapted it for the mullets. The aromatic base was celery and shallot, then I toasted the saffron in the pan, then laid the fish over, a ladle of the tomato and mint sauce I made last week, and finally seafood stock over the whole thing. Brought it to a simmer, added the fregola, covered, and cooked for 12 minutes.

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The fregula had absorbed most of the broth and made for a creamy base. It had almost a floral note to it. Red mullet's reputation as a bony fish unfortunately continued unabated here: my poor wife had to ritually stop after every forkful and fish a few bones out of her mouth, even though I had thought I carefully picked through them before serving. That sucks; I really like their delicate flesh, but I'm not sure she'll sign off on eating them any time soon again.

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If malloreddus was the "thread fad" at the start of the month, I predict that our next collective attention will turn to fregula, the Sardinian version of couscous

Since there are about a million culingiones in the freezer, I won't be joining the malloreddus cult, but I haven't opened my bag of more rustic-looking fregule. You're on.

I had originally planned on doing clams with fregula, but our seafood counter was overflowing with a bounty of items they normally don't carry, chief among them red mullet! I snapped those up and decided to improvise a main around them.  For an appetizer, I bought a few halibut cheeks, then grilled them over bay leaves (my clueless standin for myrtle).

One thing that I enjoy after your nerdy year of regional cooking, Kevin, is your willingness to improvise, albeit often out of necessity. However, I like the idea that traditional regional cooking does not have to thwart creativity and that it is flexible enough to accommodate personal tastes or what's on hand.

In this case, it is a shame that personal tastes include aversion to fish bones, the cause of more posthumous miracles performed in medieval Italy than I could count. (Diner chokes & someone recognizable swoops down from the sky to extract the bones, proving that s/he, the recently deceased, is a saint.)

I've only seen red mullet as words in cookbooks. Gulf fish? I still am amused by Elie's remark about only being able to get boar chops from his butcher, not shoulder, down there in Texas. Plus you have a Sardinian restaurant!

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I have to say I wasn't so into the baked zucchini I made for my similar meal last week.

I decided to "improve" the recipe in Ada Boni's cookbook in response to this post since the dish also caught my eye.

Since I already know what happens when you boil zucchini for five minutes, I decided this step made them kind of blah. I figured if I roasted them, cut side down, THEN filled them....

So I did. Of course, forgetting to set a timer didn't help. A bit too dehydrated and a bit bitter, unfortunately. Still, I had some leftover roasted garlic, chopped that up. Smeared it inside the squash boats. Then a basil-rich tomato sauce, then the roasted red pepper, then the half of the salt-packed anchovy, the fillets each about the length of my small golden and green zucchini. Then the fresh mozzarella.

Fridge overnight for flavors to merge. Drizzled olive oil. Baked.

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck.

I adore anchovies, but here, it was all a bit too much.

* * *

The culingiones filled with Swiss chard, on the other hand, are exceptionally delicious when sauteed lightly in olive oil until golden as is done with ravioli in Liguria. (Since mine were frozen, I had to boil them first). Who knew?

* * *

Brad, thanks for the information about wines.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I got the impression that Sardinian cooking is relatively obscure, even if its cheeses are quite well known.

Therefore, I was amused to learn of the Sardinian restaurant in Texas.

Now see this review of a venerable local restaurant that just experienced the departure of a beloved, high-profile chef* and the description of a dish with fregule, or "pearls of Sardinian pasta"!

*OT for this thread, but 1789 was the location of the big bash for Julia Child that was filmed for PBS; Ris Lacoste, the chef who just left to start her own restaurant, was in charge of the dinner. She's known for a kind of Italian/Alice Waters sensibility and still appears each weekend in one of best farmers' markets.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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While it does bill itself as "Sardinian", I'd say that the restaurant here in Dallas was probably 60-70% standard Italian mainstays, with only a few Sardinian dishes. This may have changed in the 5 years since I was there last but that was always a point of irritation for me. They've since been profiled on Mario's short lived Ciao America show and had a number of profiles in Cucina Italia magazine.

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Pontormo, did your culingiones have potatoes in them as well? I am thinking about giving Mario's recipe a try. His filling is mainly onion and potato simmered in a vinegary sauce.

BTW, my baked stuffed zucchini were much simpler and NOT boiled (yuck). just scooped out the inside and filled with breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, garlic....drizzled with olive oil and baked at 400F. Maybe it was not Sardinian, but the leftovers were pretty darn good at room temp.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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I keep logging out with the intention of getting something accomplished, then something else grabs my attention on the board index...

No, apparently there are two principal types of fillings that are traditional, though I am sure there are many, many more. I did what Klary and MrBJas did: Chard and cheese since I also had just purchased a bunch of beets with beautiful greens to incorporate.

However, Marlena de Blasi has an interesting "quick" version of the type you're about to make, baked as a pie with what sounds like a delicious crust. I was going to make that this week, but never got around to it. This weekend for sure.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I had a Sardinian meal planned for tonight. After looking through the limited information I have about cooking in the region, I decided on lamb with mint. My contorni (finocchio) could have gone in several directions, but after reading Kevin and Pontormo's latest experiences, I knew I was not going to add anchovies to them! The first two dishes are from Lorenza De'Medici's Italy The Beautiful Cookbook. The third is Marcella's.

Polpette d'Agnello alla Menta

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Ceci allo Zafferano

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Racicchio e Finocchio Saltati All'Olio - these got really nice and caramelized.

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Oh, Shaya! :shock:

Gorgeous--though you always have had a way with food photography.

However, I am longing for narrative, especially since I don't have Lorenza's book. The meatballs look scrumptious and I am curious about the ceci, having posted yesterday about my need to use up some of the dried beans in my cupboards.

Tell us more.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Oh, Shaya! :shock:

Gorgeous--though you also have had a way with food photography.

However, I am longing for narrative, especially since I don't have Lorenza's book.  The meatballs look scrumptious and I am curious about the ceci, having posted yesterday about my need to use up some of the dried beans in my cupboards.

Tell us more.

Thanks, Pontormo. The book is actually full of great food and lots of great photos. I bought it years ago before I really had any books on Italian cooking.

The meatballs have in them ground lamb, milk-soaked bread, onion (which I sauteed first to soften), chopped mint, egg, salt and pepper.

The ceci are placed into a pot with softened onion and tomatoes, simmered about 30 minutes and then a bit of water with saffron dissolved is added near the end.

Very nice, simple food. But so far, for me, Lazio has the dishes you want to repeat over and over.

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Thanks. The meatballs sound good, the ceci kind of boring.

It's almost Midsummer Night's Eve, so why not reflect?

Actually, I have a fondness for Piemonte, especially since I was so ignorant of a region I now consider particularly rich in culinary pleasures. I also have been quite happy in Liguria because I still feel about pesto the way hathor does......maybe. (I don't like eating first thing in the morning, so even though construction workers woke me up at 6, I haven't had breakfast and I don't think it will be eggs slathered in ground up leaves, nuts and olive oil. ) It was the maro and the other lovely vegetables...

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I had a Sardinian meal planned for tonight.  After looking through the limited information I have about cooking in the region, I decided on lamb with mint.  My contorni (finocchio) could have gone in several directions, but after reading Kevin and Pontormo's latest experiences, I knew I was not going to add anchovies to them!  The first two dishes are from Lorenza De'Medici's Italy The Beautiful Cookbook

i have that one, and have made a few recipes out of it. my only problem with is is that it's about 14 inches tall, which makes it really unwieldy in the kitchen. actually i have one other small problem with it, which is that, in the openings to chapters, she talks about how the cuisine is changing and things are made differently now... and basically it's hard to tell what are 'traditional' recipes and what are her more modern kind of interpretations of things. for some reason i have a harder time with this cookbook than with some others.

i mean, not that i'm interested in the authenticity debate. i just like to know what i'm cooking.

Edited by mrbigjas (log)
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Ciao from Montone! :biggrin::cool: Very, very happy to be back. So far, for all things Sardinian:

a) we flew over the island, and it looks just like the map!

b) I bought lots of Sardinian pecorino at the market

c) We ate at our Sardinian restaurant in town. It gets better and better.

d) We've been dutifully drinking Sardinian wine, mostly cannanau, but today for lunch we had a light white.

Shaya, your meal looked beautiful! The carmelized vegetables looks especially good.

Kevin, I share your pain with the red mullet. Its one of my favorite fish, but a real pain to bone.

I want to look thru the books I have here, re-acquaint myself, and then do some cooking!

I have access to a substantial sized BBQ, it looks more like an altar for meat roasting, but I don't know if I can get a whole goat on it.... We'll see.

We've had a whole houseful of company, but they left this morning for Florence, and now hopefully things will settle down a bit and I can back to the serious stuff of cooking Sardinian. :biggrin:

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Very nice, simple food. But so far, for me, Lazio has the dishes you want to repeat over and over.

I agree with you there 100%.

I have had some real Sardinian setbacks this month. A clam soup and a polenta dish both unfortunately forgettable.

I really wanted to immerse myself in this month since it is a piece of my heritage I am not really aware of or connected to. I started of the month with my mother and my Aunt Mary on the phone for the family history. My grandfather came from the Island of St. Peter, was a cook on a merchant ship from age 14, jumped ship in NYC to skip Ellis Island and never looked back. Not much exists from his culture since when he arrived here he became totally committed to be American, he didn't speak or teach Italian to his children and never went back to the old country. His dream was to become a wild west cowboy like "hoppalong casadich" :raz:

I've tried to make some sense of why it isn't inspiring me or attracting me and the best analogy I have come up with to explain how I feel is: If Lazio cuisine is worthy of a festival or hearty gathering of friends and Liguria is great lazy day Sunday food, both very fun to both cook and eat then Sardinian food is simply about sustenance and necessity. I know this is oversimplified and uneducated based on my very limited knowledge but it ties it up nicely for me.

There have been a few bright spots (outside of the family history lesson which has been wonderful), the wine both red and white has been amazing. I will go out of my way in the future to drink both vermentino and cannanau, they are very versatile, inexpensive and very delicious.

The cheese has also been very nice. We found three, Monte Mayor, Moliterno and Feori de Sardegna. They are all hard aged goat's milk with varying degrees of sharpness and graininess. We also found an excellent way to enjoy these thanks to Adam Baltic's Florence Blog, with Sardinian Chestnut Honey. :wub:

I haven't thrown in the towel yet though, I am hopeful!

-Mike

-Mike & Andrea

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I finally made something Sardinian again today, from the Bugiali book: aubergine baked with a paste of sundried tomatoes, olive oil, parsley and garlic. It was very good, salty and rich and the aubergine nice and soft from roasting.

here it is on my dinner plate with lots of other non-Sardinian stuff.

gallery_21505_2929_8846.jpg

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I just finished reading this thread in preparation for Friday night's Sardinian meal! What a wealth of information. I confess I've been following these Italian threads closely, but I haven't cooked much from ANY region in Italy and the idea of sourcing Sardinian olive oil scares me! I doubt our meal will be as authentic as the meals posted here, but I will give it a try.

I made a Sardinian pasta dish a few years ago that I really liked, and thought I'd share the recipe. I remember using a mix of ground lamb and pork instead of just pork. I also used more meat than the recipe called for...(what can I say, I love meat. :laugh: ) I also made my own saffron gnocchi...I think it was a Batali recipe. Alas, these were the days before I found Egullet and I don't have a picture. :wink:

Saffron Pasta with Pork and Tomato Sauce

There's also a recipe for Sardinian Ravioli cookies in Mario Batali's Molto Italiano cookbook. It is a fried dessert with goat yogurt and honey as the filling. I'll post the recipe if anyone's interested.

Edited by Ling (log)
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Lorna, that recipe is for the malloreddus that a lot of folk have been making, though your link provides a more substantial, wonderful sauce.

One thing we've mentioned here and in the short write-ups of the region would be perfect for adventurous meat-lovers, whether the Daddy-A Vancouver gang that did the pig roast at Deborah's (called "Porceddu" Arristito in Sardegna), or perhaps the Mistral crowd on their day off :laugh:.

It's called pastu mistu, in which one animal is stuffed inside another, inside another. This caught on during Napoleon's occupation of the island and became fagiano in cocotta: pheasant inside a turkey (yes, shades of turducken).

The method of cooking it is also appropriate for summer: in caraxiu, or pit-roasting, flavored with mint and other herbs.

There is one more weekend left in June...

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I really wanted to immerse myself in this month since it is a piece of my heritage I am not really aware of or connected to.  I started of the month with my mother and my Aunt Mary on the phone for the family history.  My grandfather came from the Island of St. Peter, was a cook on a merchant ship from age 14, jumped ship in NYC to skip Ellis Island and never looked back.  Not much exists from his culture since when he arrived here he became totally committed to be American, he didn't speak or teach Italian to his children and never went back to the old country.  His dream was to become a wild west cowboy like "hoppalong casadich" :raz:

The cheese has also been very nice.  We also found an excellent way to enjoy these thanks to Adam Baltic's Florence Blog, with Sardinian Chestnut Honey. :wub:

Mike: I wondered if you were off on vacation or...

Thanks for the thoughtful post. Your speculations regarding Sardegna make a lot of sense, though I do find that there are quite a few examples of "cucina povera" that we have all appreciated. For me, these have centered on vegetables and creative uses of pasta or grains. Plotkin and others talk about isolation between husbands who herd sheep (and roast what they catch at work) and wives who stay back home (baking bread) with their families as a common aspect of the culture. However, we do see great food among fishermen, perhaps because port cities attract merchants and have more diverse populations? I know very little about this place, but certainly Sicily's long attraction to Greeks, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, etc., etc. helped create a very different island cuisine.

While I am not of Italian descent, I have lived in a number of Italian-American communities and have witnessed exactly what you've described. (I think I've posted about it in terms of a midwestern butcher whose family was relatively isolated from others who shared his Italian roots. He was insulted when I asked for a certain Italian cut, saying "I am in America now! I drive a BMW!)

As for your honey, I am jealous. I can't even find a good dark substitute; buckwheat honey used to be common. Online sources charge around $18 plus shipping.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I broke open my bag of fregula for dinner last night. Most of the recipes I found online were for fregula dishes with seafood. I wanted to go another way so motivated by some comments that the pasta was also served with ragus I decided to go that route. I could not find any lamb shoulder in town so went with some bone-in pork shoulder pieces. I did not have a real Sardininan recipe so I follwed a fairly baisc ragu technique. I browned the meat in olive oil, added a bit of onion and carrot, some san marzanos, some red wine (primitivo) and a bit of chicken broth and water. I braised it until tender and shredded the meat and removed the bones. I finished the dish like a standard pasta dish; boil the fregula until just underdone then finish in the condimento. Interesting texture to the dish as the fregula had 2 distinct textures. The toasted ones were a touch underdone and firm while the untoasted ones were a bit soft and almost breaking down. Overall I quite enjoyed this dish and would do this again- hopefully with lamb for a bit stronger meat flavor. The finishing touches were extra EVOO, a bit of parsley and a good portion of my pecorino sardo.

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The food went nicely with the single bottle of Cannonau I was able to find in town. My wine merchant assured me that drinking Cannonau will let you live to 100...

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My only sides were a few olives as an antipasti and a simple green salad.

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