SARDINIA MACELLAIO - step by step instructions

Sardinia is a land of contrasts; a vast and beautiful shoreline, azure waters garnished with cliffs laden with wild juniper married with a hilly and arid inland. Their food too, is a marriage of Italian flavours – particularly the Genovese, who regularly invaded - with those of other climes; a strong Catalan influence from their colonies on the island, a touch of the Arab flavours so common in Sicily, a hint of Corsica, grazing the island’s northern tip. It is a chaotic cuisine, harmonised solely by a fantastical deliciousness that runs through it all. It is unique, and exceptional. Here we have octopus from the coast, pig from the hills, and milk from the sheep that furnish the landscape. It is the taste of an exotic and wonderful place.

Octopus, roast tomato, chickpea, celery & basil salad
~
Porceddu with potatoes, artichokes, white wine & bay
~
Ricotta & chocolate cake

 

For your meal you will need:

  • A bowl for dressing the octopus
  • An ovenproof frying pan, or oven tray for the pork
  • A saucepan for the sauce

The detailed recipes for the dishes are below, but in essence:

  • Sit the pig in a pan, and nestle the artichokes and potatoes around
  • Roast in a hot oven for 25 minutes, then let rest
  • Let the salad ingredients come to room temperature, then dress and eat
  • Warm the sauce for the pig, then plate pig, potatoes, artichokes & sauce, then eat the pig, like a pig
  • Remove the ricotta cake from the fridge ten minutes before eating, to take the edge off a little, then plate and eat 

Octopus, roast tomato, chickpea, celery & basil salad

On a trip to Chia, a majestic stretch of rocky coastline at Sardinia’s southern tip, I once ate an outstanding lunch. At a fishmonger’s which also happened to serve food, nestled in a slightly industrial maritime landscape, it began with a selection of antipasti; an escabeche of dogfish, a little dish of mussels marinated with garlic and parsley, and this, best of all, a salad of octopus, fiery with chilli, garlic & vinegar, mellowed with chickpeas, celery and tomatoes. It was exquisite. Here, I give it to you.

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • Octopus, braised gently until tender but with a little bite
  • Roast datterini tomatoes, mixed with cooked chickpeas
  • A bag of Celery, in chunky slices, and basil leaves
  • A dressing of fine olive oil, wine vinegar, chilli & garlic 
  • Remove all salad ingredients from the fridge half an hour before you want to eat
  • In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together, tearing the basil leaves as you go
  • Shake the dressing to mix, then add it to the bowl and mix well again
  • Lift from the bowl and let tumble gently onto chosen plates

Porceddu with potatoes, artichokes, white wine & bay

Inland Sardinia, and even much of the coast, is littered with agriturismi – smallholdings with restaurants, and perhaps a guest house, attached. Some are awful, targeting tasteless tourists with mediocre food and overpriced wines. But most are very good indeed, and the best are exceptional. All of them, though, feature porceddu – a strong contender for Sardinia’s national dish – young suckling pigs roasted until rich, tender and crisp, a celebration of youth and porcinity. Matched with potatoes and artichokes, it is superlative.

 Your pack serves two and contains:

  • A large chunk of suckling pig, roasted
  • Peeled and par-boiled wedges of potatoes, mixed with braised artichokes
  • A sauce made from the head and feet of the pig, white wine & bay leaves

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to maximum, with the fan on if it has one
  • Sit the pig in a large ovenproof frying pan or oven tray, and nestle the potatoes and artichokes around
  • Roast for 25 minutes or so, until the skin is crisp and burnished, and the pig hot though
  • Let the pig rest, for 10-15 minutes
  • Meanwhile, warm the sauce with the bay leaves
  • When rested, place the pig on a large serving platter, and nestle the potatoes & artichokes around
  • Pour the sauce into a jug, or just around the pig
  • Feast

Ricotta and chocolate cake

Sardinia is a huge producer of sheep’s milk, the source of almost all the pecorino romano so prized in Rome, as well as their own excellent cheeses; casu martzu not withstanding. But to my mind, best of all is sheep’s milk ricotta; creamy & homely, but with a farmyard kick, its uses are myriad. This cake, made only with the finest ricotta, lightly sweetened and beaten with eggs, cream, cocoa and a little chocolate, is one the best of them.

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • Two slices of marbled ricotta & chocolate cake

Directions:

  • Remove the cake from the fridge 10-15 minutes before eating
  • Sit neatly on plates and scoff