Abruzzo is a land of shepherds and its territory is crossed by numerous sheep tracks, the paths along which seasonal migration passed and which today have been declared Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.
The shepherds move their flock twice a year, in summer up to the fresh mountain pastures and in winter down to the less cold ones near the sea. For millennia they have followed the same paths that have been described in ancient texts. On their way, they participated in fairs and contributed to the local economy.
For this reason, Abruzzo cuisine has many dishes based on lamb and sheep. From the famous arrosticini that entered the Italian tradition around the world to particular dishes typical of specific areas.
Teramo was one of the last stages with its position between two rivers and a short distance from the Adriatic Sea, and has always been an independent and quite ‘belligerent’ place. Let’s say that its history was characterized by having to contain the expansive aims of its neighbours and by having to reinvent itself after harsh natural disasters such as earthquakes.
In its kitchen “nothing is thrown away” and perhaps for this reason one of its traditional dishes are “mazzarelle”, roulades of lamb’s entrails wrapped in lettuce or endive leaves and tied with gut.
They were prepared especially at Easter, when the lamb is cooked, that symbol of Jesus left to die for our salvation. Some people ate the ‘noble’ part of the animal and some could only have what is called, in Rome, the fifth quarter.
According to the Teramana tradition, the mazzarelle were eaten in the morning with the Easter breakfast together with the blessed hard-boiled eggs and the Easter pizza.
Today’s recipe is presented by Daniele Zunica, the fourth generation of a family who have run a restaurant in Civitella del Tronto since 1880. Everything started from an inn for travellers and today it is one of the best places to find true Abruzzo cuisine, with dishes balancing tradition and innovation.
All the products they use come from the local territory, from producers selected for quality and attention to the environment. If you want to learn how to cook, Daniele and his staff also organize cooking courses where you can get to know about Abruzzo and its flavours.
Recipe of Mazzarelle Teramane
- Lamb coratella (heart, liver and lung)
- Lamb entrails
- Garlic and onion
- Parsley, rosemary, marjoram, bay leaf, cloves, thyme, sage
- Chilli pepper
- Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Lettuce leaves or endive
- Salt and pepper
- Tomato sauce
We start by cleaning the entrails: we then open the guts along their length, and wash them thoroughly by squeezing them several times. When they become light coloured and well cleaned, rinse with water and vinegar.
We cut the coratella into strips, wash and drain, after salting, together with the entrails.
At this point you can start making the dish by taking a lettuce / endive leaf and placing 3-4 strips of coratella on it. To these you add a little onion, parsley and garlic.
Then we roll up and tie with the guts, and as the rolls are prepared we put them back to drain. These are the ‘mazzarelle’.
Then soften the mazzarelle in salted water with a bay leaf and cloves bringing to a boil and cook for about 2 hours on low heat.
For the final part, in a pan, put the herbs to fry, and add the mazzarelle and a few ladles of the cooking water. When they begin to fry (and the oil and water have been absorbed), add the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo wine and let it evaporate.
The mazzarelle can be eaten “white” or with the addition of tomato sauce.