Lisa Musu and Daniela Melis: Culurgiones
We met Lisa and Daniela, two beautiful hard working and very welcoming women, at artisan workshop Sas Durcuras, Cagliari, that opens to the public offering its delicious sweets, fresh pasta with typical Sardinian products available to those who are not satisfied with tasting them in a restaurant but also want to take them home.
It was very impressive to watch these two beautiful ladies making culurgiones by hand. Truly culinary art!
The culurgiones are a typical delicacy of the Sardinian tables. In the town of Ulassai, culurgiones are eaten only on the “Day of the Dead” held in 2nd November and this tradition continued till late 1960’s. In all of Ogliastra and in the villages of Sadali and Esterzili in the Barbagia of Seulo are not considered only a food, but a precious gift, a sign of respect and friendship. They were prepared for special occasions on festive seasons like Thanksgiving, at the end of the wheat harvest, the day of remembering the dead and Carnival in February. Sa spighita, the typical closure of culurgionis, represents the symbol of wheat to propitiate the new agricultural year in late August. According to tradition they were also considered to be the talisman that safeguards family deprivation.
The easiest preparation of culurgiones which needs whole potatoes, cheese, mint, for stuffing and the dough is made from semolina flour, all purpose flour, eggs, water and salt. Make the pasta and stuff it with your potato filling. Freeze them and later boil them in ample salt water. There are few options to serve culurgiones, like butter and sage or with tomato sauce. Also you can fried them, delicious as well.
The dough, filling and sauce are remarkably easy to make, but the trick is to get the stitching process correct so that each filled pocket resembles a wheat sheaf. Hopefully this video will help.
Prep. time: 60 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Difficulty: 4 out of 5
INGREDIENTS FOR 60 CULURGIONES:
125 g durum wheat semolina
300 g all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
290 g of water
1 tbsp olive oil
FOR THE STUFFING 1 kg red potatoes 150 g Sardinian Pecorino cheese
150 g Sardinian aged Pecorino cheese 80 g Extra virgin olive oil 1 garlic clove 15 Mint leaves Salt qb Black pepper qb
500 g Tomato sauce 30 g Extra virgin olive oil 3 Basil leaves 1 Garlic clove Salt qb
Preparation: To prepare the culurgionis, start with the filling: infuse a clove of garlic in the extra virgin oil, leave it for 8 hours or a whole night. Safely remove the garlic: in this way you will get a lightly flavored oil. Then proceed with the rest of the preparation: boil the potatoes by pouring them into a pan with plenty of cold water and after about 30-40 minutes of cooking, depending on their size, test with a fork to make sure they are cooked. Peel the potatoes while still very hot and mash them, next let them cool completely. Add the grated Sardinian pecorino cheese and the minced leaves of mint, mix everything and season with salt and pepper. Finally, add the garlic-flavored oil. After mixing the mixture thoroughly, cover it and leave it to rest in the refrigerator overnight.
Prepare the pasta by pouring the semolina and all purpose flour into a container; add 15 g of oil and water at room temperature and knead briefly with a fork.Transfer the mixture onto a pastry board and knead for 3 minutes until a smooth dough is obtained. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Arrange the dough in a machine to roll the dough; if you want you can also divide it, but it is important that you cover it with plastic wrap so it will not dry. You can use a large cup to make small disks Take a disk between thumb and forefinger, in the middle place the potato dough that you have taken from the fridge, press gently so as to slightly flatten the mixture and pinch the base. Then you will have to pinch with your fingers, picking up the end and bringing it first on one side and then on the other until the other end is closed. Continue with all the other discs and until you have all your culurgionis ready to cook.
Next, in a pan with oil, pour the peeled clove of garlic and let it flavor for a few minutes, then pour the tomato puree, add salt, pepper and season with a few leaves of fresh basil. After about 30 minutes of cooking remove the garlic.
Cook the culurgionis, a few at a time, in boiling salted water: it will take about 5-6 minutes and then, like the gnocchi, when they rise to the surface you can drain them by placing them on a plate and garnishing them with a little sauce and a few leaves of basil. STORAGE. You can keep the raw culurgionis by keeping them at room temperature for 1-2 days at most, covering them well with a clean cloth. You can also freeze raw culurgionis. To do this, however, you will have to cook them in boiling water for 1 minute, in this way they will not break when you cook them the next time. Once frozen, you can dip them, without thawing them first, in boiling salted water.
Chef tips: The more time you firm the dough, the more compact it will be, so arm yourself with lots of patience. The filling can become even better, for example by adding nutmeg! The typical recipe involves the use of Viscidu, a local pecorino that is not easy to find, if you are lucky, use it as a substitute for Sardinian pecorino!