Chapter 1 – Sardinia
Physical travel is becoming less of an option (again) so Carlotta (@LaPanzaPiena) and I thought we would take you on a trip of Italy – through food and wine obviously. Each week we’ll introduce you to a different region through one local dish paired with a regional wine, you’ll hopefully discover places and producers within regions you had no idea about! We’re starting off with Sardinia, my region :), one of the most beautiful and geographically diverse regions of Italy.
Click here to scroll down to the recipe.
First thing that comes to everyone’s mind when talking about Sardinian wines is Cannonau, with no doubts. This grape has always been considered the king and the emblem of Sardinian red wines and wines in general, while it is often associated with some wine characteristics which do not really match the new trends for wine lovers and sommeliers. Mamoiada is a very small village in the heart of Barbagia, Sardinian inland. The history of Mamoiada and its Cannonau is a different story that gets lost back in time, a family history, a tradition which is profoundly radicate in the culture of this land.
In this area, famous for the Mamuthones (ancestral masks, linked to a very old carnival tradition, but not only) each family produces its own wine and every inhabitant of the village has its vineyard to make wine, while the proper wineries are less than 20.
Here the king is absolutely Cannonau grape, but a very special one. The concept of Cannonau here has always been a very “modern” one, because this is how it was born since the beginning in this highly vocate area.
The wine Mamuthone, from Giuseppe Sedilesu winery, expresses this concept and the perfect marriage between the tradition and a more approachable kind of wine. Cannonau wine is generally considered very rich, a wine with a big structure, full bodied and pretty round, but here, in Mamoiada this is not always true. The philosophy of this winery is making a sustainable wine, from the vineyards to the cellar, simplify the winemaking approach in the cellar, using big oak barrels of 40ht and concrete to decant the wine before the bottling. Spontaneous fermentation with wild yeasts and non filtered wines.
The result is a great base wine, with a more modern concept, more into the taste of contemporary consumers and sommeliers, with a finesse and freshness which sometimes has been lost in the past in these wines, but that in Mamoiada is a key feature. For this reason Mamuthone is a wine that can be paired not only with traditional Sardinian dishes (which is still a great marriage) but also with a more contemporary and lighter cooking. It’s a must have wine in your private cellar as it is very versatile and you don’t’ need to pull out your grill to open a bottle. A wine that will go very well with many pasta dishes, with both meat or seafood sauce (tomato sauce) and also with vegetarian ones.
Me and Carlotta decided to choose a very traditional pairing in this case, the one with Malloreddus pasta with sausage ragu from which she will be sharing the history and the recipe.
This week’s regional dish is focused on a very traditional shape of pasta from the beautiful island of Sardinia, malloreddus, small durum wheat flour ‘gnocchi’ with external ridges and a concave interior. They hold the first place prize for being the most cooked traditional dish during sagre, festivities and weddings.
All around the world, food preparation was historically the role of very specific people, it wasn’t something done by everyone like it is nowadays. In rural Italy it was massaie who traditionally prepared meals, as well as taking care of all other household affairs – they have been carefully shaping malloreddus for centuries.
A strong indication of the dishes’ rural origins lies within the name itself: malloreddu is a diminutive of the word malloru, which in sardo campidanese, the local dialect of the area where the pasta originates from, means bull. Although some of Italy’s best fish and seafood is found in Sardinia’s waters, it is historically a land of farmers and mountain communities surrounded by cattle and livestock, and malloreddus pay homage to the region’s agricultural heritage.
Their ridged exterior which is nowadays achieved by a rigagnocchi – a wooden paddle scored by vertical lines – used to be achieved by rolling the rectangular bits of pasta dough on a basket made from weaved hay. The lined texture paired with the concave shape are ideal for scooping up the sauce, which is traditionally a ragù made with sausages and dry fennel seeds.
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SAUSAGE RAGU RECIPE:
For 4 people
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 stick of celery, finely diced
2 tablespoons of dry fennel seeds
2 cans of pelati or passata
4 pork sausages
Pecorino sardo (optional)
- Place a few lugs of olive oil in a deep, non-stick pot and turn the heat onto medium high.
- Once the oil is hot, throw in the diced onion, carrot and celery as well as the fennel seeds, turn the heat on medium-low and let the veggies brown nicely and soften.
- Squeeze the sausage out of its case and place it in the pot once the soffritto has softened, in large chunks.
- Once the sausage chunks have browned nicely on each side pour in the first can of passata or pelati, then rinse the can with a bit of water and pour that into the pot as well. Add the second can if the meat is not almost entirely submerged in tomatoes.
- Once the ragù begins to bubble, turn the heat onto low and cover the pot with a lid and leave it to simmer for a few hours. The more you cook it slowly for the softer the meat will become.
- When you’re satisfied with the taste and consistency of your ragù, add as much as you want onto pasta, and top everything off with a fresh shaving of Pecorino Sardo.
WHAT TO DO IN MAMOIADA
Mamoiada is a very small village, famous also for its street art (as well as Orgosolo), 15 min driving from Nuoro (the biggest city around there). The main attraction here is enotourism, indeed you have a lot of interesting wineries which you can visit, like Giuseppe Sedilesu and Giovanni Montisci, but also other activities might be:
- Mediterrenean Masks museum
- Pedra Pinta’ stele
EVENTS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
- Autumn in Barbagia
- Carnival in Mamoiada
For more information please visit the website : https://www.mamoiadaturismo.it/