We were sent this recipe for Shepherd’s Steak by our organic cheese-making friends at La Porta dei Parchi, in response to a request we had for an Abruzzo Cheese recipe. The enquiry was from a lady in the US who is writing an international book on cheese and wanted to feature something of Abruzzo, due in particular to the region’s reputation for making excellent pecorino (sheep’s cheese), considered second-to-none across Italy.
Not only is this recipe delicious, vegetarian and super quick, it also combines two of my favourite ingredients: cheese and mint. For any halloumi cheese lovers this is a dish that you’re bound to relish, as well as being a canny roadmap to the socio-economic history of Abruzzo. You can easily imagine Abruzzo’s shepherds putting this together at the end of the day from the ingredients in their knapsacks, utilising milk from the sheep and chopping a little mint and other meadow herbs that the sheep have grazed on through the day; you wouldn’t be eating your main assets after all!
It also answers one of my recent questions about what my neighbours do with the stale bread when they buy in bulk for a long bank holiday weekend, as I know for sure the oldies in the village don’t go in for Tuscan Panzanella-like salads, this is no doubt one of the supper dishes they cook using up that hard bread. Like other regions in Italy with a high diaspora rate, this traditional Abruzzo dish points to inventive recycling with leftovers, made perhaps with a old slices of baguette & left in the oven for another 5 minutes it would make great party finger food; we ate it with some raw sweet fava beans (broad beans)…it leaves cheese on toast out for the count.
- 2 Slices of Stale Bread
- 1 medium Red Onion
- 100 g young Pecorino (aged 1 to 3 months or a similar cheese)
- Fresh Mint leaves
Cut the onion into thin slices; dip the slices of bread in the milk both sides and place in a shallow roasting tin, add the onion onto the bread (at this point I also added a little ground black pepper) and then cover with slices of cheese. Put it into the oven (180 ° C) until onion is cooked (about 10 min.). Add mint leaves and enjoy!