Region: Italy, Sicily
Category: Variety Meats
Difficulty: Medium Difficulty
Stigghiola is defined by Antonino Traina, a noted nineteenth-century Sicilian lexographer, as "a dainty of intestines entwisted around kid, lamb or even chicken omenta." The omentum, also called caul fat, is a net-like membrane which covers the small intestine. The Sicilian cookbook author Tommaso d'Alba relates that in the outskirts of Palermo, streets are filled with the smell and smoke of u stigghiularu, the stigghiola-vendors, who sell them for a pittance. Variations on stigghiole are found throughout the Mediterranean. In Sardinia it goes by the name cordula. In Apulia it is called carramarra or gniummeriddi. In Calabria it is formed with Provola cheese, pancetta, garlic, parsley and lemon juice and called gliommarieddri. The Arabs, Turks, and Greeks all have a similar dish. Finding lamb caul fat, although ideal, may be quite difficult, so use pork caul fat which is more readily available. On the other hand halal butchers might just have the lamb caul. Caul fat is very fragile (you can see through it) so handle with care. It acts as a self-baster and is fatty, so don't wrap the ingredients in this recipe more than once. The abundant use of scallions, scalogno, may be a throwback to Arab days. Scalogno is a reflection, as is the English word scallion, of the origin of this type of onion, in the Palestinian Arab town of Ascalon. Scallions were once called "onions of Ascalon." Do not cover the grill when cooking the stigghiole, and make sure the skewers are far enough away from the source of heat to avoid flare-ups.
Yield: Makes 8 servings
Preparation Time: 1 hour
Eight 12 x 8-inch pieces caul fat
1 lamb heart or veal heart, tubes and veins removed, sliced into strips
Eight 10-inch long wooden skewers
8 scallions, trimmed
1 or 2 bunches parsley (about 40 sprigs), divided into 8 smaller bunches of about 5 sprigs each
8 sprigs fresh sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Prepare an indirect hot charcoal fire or preheat one side of a gas grill on high for 15 minutes.
2. Caul fat is usually packed in salt already cleaned. Rinse them gently in a bowl. Skewer the heart strips lengthwise on the wooden skewers. Unfold the caul fat and lay them on a surface spread out like a handkerchief. Lay a skewer with its strip of heart on top of one edge of the caul fat.
3. On top of the skewered heart lay a whole scallion, a bunch of parsley, stems and all, and the sage sprig. Salt and pepper the skewers. Begin to wrap these ingredients up with the caul fat, making sure it is tight and firmly closed. Continue until all the ingredients are used up.
4. Place the skewers on the non-fire side of the grill and grill, turning frequently, until dark golden brown on all sides, 30 to 40 minutes, but keep a close eye on it. Serve directly from the grill.