By Enza Bettelli

IGP lamb from Sardinia

Sardinia is fascinating, with its wild landscapes, rocky coasts, turquoise sea, small white beaches. Inland there are woods and glades, and then more rocks, plateaux and mountains with extensive areas ideal for lamb farming.
The punic and roman ruins are very interesting, and so are the remains from nuragic times, gothic-catalan monuments, prehistoric and protohistoric remains of the island, as well as more modern monuments such as the square in Ales dedicated to its famous inhabitant, Antonio Gramsci.
Historical and cultural excursions can be alternated with water sports, hiking, cycling and horseback riding, or visiting the various fairs and festivals to get a taste of the local produce from all seasons.

Sheep farming is an art which has been practised in Sardinia for thousands of years. As a matter of fact, the whole island is considered I.G.P. territory, even though the areas of  Cagliari, Nuoro, Oristano, Sassari, Carbonia-Iglesias, Medio Campidano, Ogliastra, Olbia-Tempio are more well known. The I.G.P. cooperative for the safeguard of the Sardinian lamb was founded in 2001 and is presently based in Nuoro. The cooperative’s duty is to verify and guarantee respect for quality by keeping the whole agrarian-food chain under control by means of a special organization authorized by the Ministry of Agriculture and managed by a certification committee made up of members from all parts of the chain, including consumers and scientists.
I.G.P. lamb is sold with the wording Agnello di Sardegna, the I.G.P. mark, the type of meat and the name of the cut.

Only lambs born, reared and butchered in Sardinia may be considered I.G.P.. Farming is mostly free range, in sunny, open spaces, exposed to the wind, in completely natural environments where the animals graze freely.
The lambs are Sardinian and are divided in three types:
-        Milk lambs: cold weight, without hide 5-7 kg, fed exclusively on their mother’s milk
-        Light: cold weight, without hide 7-10 kg, fed on mother’s milk integrated with fodder and fresh and/or dried cereals
-        Cutting: weight cold and without hide 10-13 kg, fed with mother’s milk integrated with fodder and fresh and/or dried cereals
This type of lamb can only be Sardinian, or first generation cross breeds with Ile De France and Berricon Du Cher or other meat races which are highly specialized.

There is fresh fish from the sea, including tuna, lobsters and mullet from which the precious fish eggs are obtained. There is lamb which is cooked in various ways but the traditional recipe uses myrtle and rosemary. These same herbs are also used to flavour the small pigs from which an excellent number of cold cuts are obtained. There are excellent vegetables and sheep and goat’s milk which used for various typical cheeses, such as pecorino, ricotta and other fresh cheeses often used in our cuisine.
Pasta is fresh and sometimes very simple such as ‘sa fregula (very small balls of flour and water) and malloreddus (very tiny grain dumplings), seasoned with tomato or minced meat or fish, or richer ones such as cheese ravioli (angiolottus or culingiones). Frattau bread is a very brittle puff pastry which lasts for quite a while and is used as a base for typical soups.
Almonds and honey are the base for amaretti, torrone, the soft little frosted balls called suspirus, sweet ravioli sebadas, pardulas which are small baskets dressed with ricotta, and so on.
Local saffron flavours and colours dishes and desserts and is very typical of the area, as is the excellent olive oil. There is an abundance of wine to match; among which Vernaccia, Malvasia and Cannonau being the most famous.

These are small bite-sized pieces of lamb, wrapped in lard and put on reed or wood kebab sticks. They are lined up in a pan, previously greased with oil. Rosemary and myrtle twigs are added, as well as crushed garlic if desired, and more oil is brushed over the kebabls. Salt and pepper is added and the kebabs are cooked on a moderate heat, turned over frequently, for about 15 minutes or until the meat has become a nice golden colour. Myrtle may be substituted with fresh wild fennel twigs.

(English translation by Gudrun Dalla Via)

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