Region: Italy, Apulia
Category: Sausage, Grilled Sausage, Mixed
Difficulty: Labor Intensive
This kind of preparation–grilled variety meats and herbs wrapped in caul fat– is popular all over rural southern Italy, but it is especially popular in Apulia, in the region of Gargano, where they grill it over olive wood. It is also known, in various Apulian dialects, as la ghjammarìedda, gnomirelli , gnumariddi or gnemmerrìdde. In one preparation from Locorotondo, gnemmerrìdde suffucate, a recipe comes from a manuscript of the nineteenth-century priest Giuseppe Lorussi that was studied by Prof. Luigi Sada, the sausage is basically a tripe roll-up. The tripe used is the thick and fatty tripe from either veal, goat, or a young lamb. The tripe is cleaned and cut into 3-inch pieces. The tripe is laid in the omasum (another form of tripe), the third chamber of the ruminant stomach, called omaso, millefoglie, libro, centropelli in Italian and its dialects. This is the stomach that is in between the reticulum and abomasum. It is rolled up and cooked in a pan with onion, tomato and a little water.
In Sicily, where a similar preparation is called stigghiole, they are street food sold by special vendors called 'u stigghiularu, the stigghiole-sellers, and their aromas are very enticing.
Sardinians are famed for their rustic grilled offal dishes as well, such as the cordula made by the shepherds. Cordula is a braided grilled sausage casing with chunks of heart and liver seasoned with sage, dried juniper berries, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper. Another Sardinian preparation called ortau are casings stuffed with pig's blood, fried lard, liver, tongue, heart, spleen and lung, all chopped very fine with parsley and garlic. Trattalia, a typical farmhouse preparation of pluck (the heart, liver and lungs) and reticulum (the second stomach of a ruminant animal) grilled with bay leaves and roasted bread cubes is cooked in a trench lined with stones where a fire is built with mixed woods and the food wrapped in aromatic leaves such as grape leaves or myrtle. This style of cooking is called a carrargiu in Sardinian dialect.
Although fantastically delicious, I find that most Americans have not developed a taste for mixed grilled offal and provide only this recipe for those who would like to experiment. You will not be disappointed in this new experience.
[photo: Clifford A. Wright]
Yield: Makes 8 skewers; 6 to 8 servings
Preparation Time: 1:15 hours
1/2 pound pork caul fat, cut into 5 x 7-inch rectangles
3/4 pound lamb or veal heart, sinews and veins removed
3/4 pound lamb or veal liver, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
3/4 pound lamb or veal kidney, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
24 fresh sage leaves
1/4 pound pecorino crotonese or provolone cheese, cut into strips about 3 inches long
1/4 pound pork or lamb fat, cut into strips about 3 inches long
24 sprigs fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Prepare a low charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill on low.
2. Carefully (because it’s fragile) unravel and spread the caul fat on a surface. If you are unable to get 5 x 7-inch rectangles, use a patchwork of caul fat. Skewer 1 cube each of the heart, liver, and kidney, in that order, placing a sage leaf between the cubes (about 3 sage leaves per skewer). Lay the skewer on a rectangle of caul fat. Place a strip of pecorino, a strip of pork or lamb fat, and 2 to 3 sprigs of parsley on top, add salt and pepper to taste, and roll up tightly. The caul fat should adhere without problem, and the wrapped skewer will look like a thick sausage. Continue in this manner until all the ingredients are used to make 8 skewers.
3. Place the skewers on the grill and cook, turning frequently, until the caul fat is dark brown and the meat no longer squishy to the touch, about 45 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.