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Shepherd Steak

Shepherd’s Steak – Abruzzo’s Pastoral Cheese on Toast

by Sam Dunham

We were sent this by our -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 (’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 when they buy in bulk for a long bank 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 .   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 ; we ate it with some raw sweet fava beans (broad beans)…it leaves cheese on toast out for the count.

’s Steak

Serves 2 people

2 slices of stale bread
1 medium red onion
100 g of 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!

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Ahhh, memories. They served this at the end of the tranzhumanza when I went with La Porta dei Parchi.


I’m so envious, one day I’ll get to go on it


I didn’t even know about this!


It was a great discovery, so glad that they shared the recipe


i am from abruzzo and I never heard of this :/


Do you think that’s because of the diversity of each province? We’re always so surprised how different dishes are just 15 km down the road. This recipe was given to us to share by Nuncio Marcelli (the region’s head shepherd) whose farm, La Porti dei Parchi is in Anversa degli Abruzzi AQ


obviously each province has different food, my wasnt a critic by the way, i was stating a fact.. i never heard of it, i didnt say it doesnt exist


Cristina Savino I should have put the providence, village name in the caption and not say Abruzzo!


[…] in Abruzzo shared Porta dei Parchi’s recipe for Shepherd Steak. We ate this wonderful cheese dish at the end of the transhumanza. It is a good way to use ay old or […]


Thank you for a most enlightening post. My grandfather who was from Abruzzo snacked on essentially this treat – and now I know why. Mille grazie