The Ugly Ducklings in Italian Cuisine (Scarrafoni in cucina)

Late last year, I was contacted by Massimiliano Gugole from SBS Radio and asked if I would like to contribute to an SBS program on Season 2 of The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine.              

The idea of the program is to showcase nice tasting but nasty looking Italian dishes. Massimiliano wanted to interview me about a particular dish from South Eastern Sicily that starts out looking gruesome but ends up tasting glorious. I think he must have found me through a recipe I posted on my blog about this particular dish, which one of my aunts used to make when we visited Ragusa for our Sicilian summer holidays.

My recipe and the Ugly Duckling interviews in English and Italian are entitled Zuzzu, described on the SBS website as an ancient, pork terrine that uses everything of the pig, but the oink!

I mentioned to one of my friends in Canberra that I had been interviewed for this program and with his wicked sense of humour said: “Surely the ugly duckling reference has got nothing to do with you!”

Here’s what SBS had to say about Season 1 followed by Season 2:

About Season 1

SBS has today launched its first ever bilingual podcast series – The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine (Scarrafoni in cucina) in English and Italian – celebrating the most delicious, non-Instagrammable Italian dishes that might never have come across your plate.

Over the course of six episodes, the series will follow some of Australia and Italy’s most well-known chefs and food critics, including acclaimed restaurateur and food personality Guy Grossi, celebrity chef Poh Ling Yeow, and food blogger and author Emiko Davies, as they explore and celebrate Italy’s least appetizing specialties.

Podcast host Massimiliano Gugole, from SBS Italian, said: “Italy is a country of beauty, with its food celebrated all over the world, but this podcast will introduce listeners to some of our lesser-known culinary treasures, with a healthy dose of irony thrown in for good measure.

About Season 2

SBS’s first bilingual podcast is back for seconds! Season Two of The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine (Scarrafoni in Cucina) returns in Italian and English to introduce six new dishes for the adventurous eater such as sea urchin gonads, stew with chocolate and wild boar, and risotto with a stinging weed.

A line-up of new guests will share their expertise in the world of Italian food including award-winning Melbourne chef Alberto Fava, Sicilian food truck owner Pino D’Addelfio, TV chef, author and former Food Director of Australian Women’s Weekly, Lyndey Milan, and the inimitable queen of TV cooking, Nigella Lawson.

SBS Italian Producer Massimiliano Gugole said the podcast started from a love of weird and wacky food.

“During the first season I talked about a typical dish from Verona – pearà. Not even people from neighbouring cities knew about it. When they saw a picture, they thought it looked like vomit but I, like all Veronese, love it!” said Gugole.

Looking past the superficial, Season Two of The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine will delve deeper into how these unique, local dishes became a proudly acquired taste.

“These dishes are not the celebrities – the pizzas and pastas – but they have strong links to families, towns and history. My intention is to tell their stories,” Gugole said.

“On Instagram, all food is perfect: perfect framing, perfect garnishes, but my research shows that’s not what makes food delicious. Nigella Lawson even once said, ‘brown food tastes the best’.”

Episode three in English features TV cooking royalty Nigella Lawson, who talks about stinging nettle risotto and her special relationship with 98-year-old Italian-British food writer Anna Del Conte. Lawson cites Del Conte as her only culinary influence, apart from her mother. In the Italian version of this episode, we hear from the doyenne herself, Anna Del Conte.

Conte and Lawson join guests including blogger and Instagram sensation Emiko Davies, environmental scientist and sea urchin expert Dr Paul Carnell, Italian food writer Chiara Cajelli, and research scientist Dr Maurizio Rossetto from the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, as well as restaurateurs from Italy and Australia, university professors, medieval food fanatics and more.

The podcasts in both season 1 and Season 2 are worth listening to and are very entertaining.

BS Italian Executive Producer, Magica Fossati, says differences between the Italian and English episodes on the same topic are an interesting by-product of having the same conversation with bilingual guests, but both versions are worth listening to as they complement each other.

“I heard some Italian language teachers recommended our first season to their students because it’s easier to understand and study Italian with English context,” she said.

Both English and Italian speakers can look forward to hearing a fresh perspective on the world of lesser-known Italian dishes in season two, available on the SBS Radio app and SBS Italian website. Episode one launches on February 1, recipes for the dishes featured in the series can also be found on SBS Food.

My recipe of Zuzzu and is in Italian and English.

I have listened to both podcasts about Zuzzu.
The Italian version is different to the English. One happened before anyone ate it, the other after people tasted it. The Italian version is probably more amusing and includes commentary from Lisa Ferraro, who used to live in Melbourne and one of the two who instigated Bar Idda, a Sicilian restaurant in Brunswick East, Melbourne. Lisa now lives in Rome and organises travel tours in Sicily.

Compliments to Massimiliano Gugole who did an excellent job interweaving other speakers in the interviews.

Listen or follow The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine in the SBS Radio app or your favourite podcast app, to hear all episodes in the series.

Find a collection of recipes featured in the first series on the

SBS Food website, including this recipe for my Sicilian pork terrine (Zuzzu)

Here are some photos about the preparation of Zuzzu:

The head

The head in the pan

The boiled meat drained

The different parts of meat, separated (2 photos above)

Dealing with the jelly (2 photos above)

Dealing with the terrine (2 photos above)

A tasty sauce to pour on top of the Zuzzu or to serve with it, can be made with a mixture of chopped parsley, extra virgin olive oil, some lemon juice, salt and either pepper or chili flakes. At times, I also like to add a few chopped leaves of fresh garlic or mint in mine, but this is optional. The dressing can be as thick or as thin as you wish to make it.

Links:

https://www.sbs.com.au/language/italian/en/podcast/the-ugly-ducklings-of-italian-cuisine

https://www.sbs.com.au/language/italian/en/podcast-episode/zuzzu-an-ancient-sicilian-pork-terrine-that-uses-everything-but-the-oink/okrixs5gn

https://www.sbs.com.au/food/social-tags/ugly-ducklings

My original posts about this dish:

GELATINA DI MAIALE. Pork Brawn

GELATINA DI MAIALE and HAPPY BIRTHDAY BAR IDDA (Buon Compleanno Bar Idda).

GELATINA DI MAIALE. Pork Brawn

Gelatina_blog_0143 (2)

My father’s relatives live in Ragusa in Sicily.  Ragusa and Modica are very attractive historic Baroque towns in south-eastern Sicily. Modica is  and very close to Ragusa.

Modica-gargoyles_3835

Chiaramonte Gulfi is also in this part of Sicily and Gelatina di maiale (Pork Brawn) is very popular. It is sold in butcher shops and markets, but it can also be made at home.

In Gelatina di maiale the pork’s head provides the gelatinous component. Usually the tongue is included in the head and this adds texture and extra flavour.

 Pork+pieces_0125+blog+crop (1)

Meat also needs to be included and apart from half of a pig’s head I bought 1.500 kilo of lean pork (cut into large pieces) and four pig’s feet.

Over time, I have adapted this recipe and I include bay leaves and peppercorns to the mix.  I boil the meats without vinegar for about 3 hours (until I can see the meat falling off the bones).

Once it is cooked, I leave it to rest overnight.

The next day I remove the meat from the jelly, I add ½ cup of vinegar and the juice of a couple of lemons to the broth and reduce the liquid down to a third of the original amount.

I remove the bones, shred the meat ( not too finely) and place it into a terrine lined with a few bay leaves and cover it with the cooled reduced stock.

Any fat will rise to the surface and can be scraped off when it is cool (in fact, it acts as a seal).

Great as an antipasto or as a main, especially in summer. Gelatina is sold by most butchers in southeastern Sicily.

Gelatina

GELATINA DI MAIALE and HAPPY BIRTHDAY BAR IDDA (Buon Compleanno Bar Idda).

The happy chefs of Bar Idda (photo). Alfredo is on the right.

Lisa and Alfredo are the proprietors of Bar Idda in Lygon Street. They have returned from their holiday in Sicily full of ideas and enthusiasm for their small, Sicilian restaurant.

On the 5t of July they celebrated their first birthday and their new menu strongly influenced by their recent discoveries of different recipes experienced while in Sicily.

Anthony is the bar person and after discussing the wine with him we selected a bottle of ROSSOJBLEO, a bio-organic, Sicilian Nero d’Avola from Chiaramonte Gulfi (Ragusa). My partner and I then ate our way through many very enjoyable Sicilian specialties. These included:

Hot ricotta soup with home made pasta. Ricotta is very much appreciated by Sicilians especially when it has just been made.  Particularly in Ragusa and the environs people visit cheese makers (sometimes on farms) and watch the ricotta being made. Ladles of hot, fresh curds and whey are usually poured on broken pieces of bread and eaten like soup.  

Gelatina di maiale (brawn, made with pork- see recipe and photos below) and some affettati (a selection of cold cuts of salumi). An eggplant caponata was also included in this antipasto.

Farsumagru (il falsomagro is a beef, meat roll stuffed with hard boiled egg and can include cheeses , salamini and mortadella).  It is braised in a tomato sauce and presented sliced. In this case it was made with minced beef and Alfredo’s version included a little zucchini for colour and variety of textures. Farsumagru translates into false–lean. It contains delectable ingredients including meat, so this is a pun on ‘lenten’ food – during the liturgical seasons Catholics were required to eat simple food and to abstain from eating meat. These laws have relaxed over time.

DSC_0107

The farsumagru was accompanied by a warm potato salad with capers and comichons, and a fennel and orange salad with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.

We then had a glass of Malvasia a very rich flavoured dessert wine made by drying Malvasia grapes (bianche– white variety)  before crushing.  It was an excellent accompaniment to the small fried pastries called cassateddi. There are many local variations to this recipe, and in this version the dough was stuffed with ricotta, cinnamon, and honey. I could taste some alcohol too. (Honey is used instead of sugar in the Ragusa area).

Thank you Bar Idda, for a very enjoyable meal. Auguri e complimenti and may there be many years to come.

 Recipe and photo of the Gelatina I make



Gelatina (means gelatine or jellied). It is sold as a Smallgoods food.

In various parts of Sicily the gelatina di maiale is called by a variety of names: jlatina di maiali, Suzu, suzzu, or zuzu.

I found a recipe for gelatina scribbled in one of many notebooks which I use to record recipes when I visit Italy. In this particular notebook from 1980, there are many Sicilian recipes, but on this particular trip I must have visited the relatives in Genova (a Piedmontese aunt married to my father’s brother and living in Genova and her daughter Rosadele who is an excellent cook also). There were  also some recipes written in Trieste (my zia Renata was from Rovigo and married my mother’s brother).

I have not made gelatina di maiale for many years but I have nearly always included a half of a pork’s head – this provides the jelly component. The tongue adds texture and extra flavour (you can throw out the eyes).

It is always a good idea to pre-order a pork’s head beforehand and I was not able to purchase one. I used pork feet instead (as you can see by this photo) and fortunately it turned out very well. In this gelatina I included approx 1.500 kilo of lean pork (cut into large pieces) and four pig’s feet.
INGREDIENTS AND PROCESSES
The recipe is one of my zia Niluzza’s who lives in Ragusa (Sicily) and it simply says:
1 part vinegar to 3 parts of water, red chilli flakes or whole pepper corns and salt. Use a mixed selection of pork meat, including the head.
Place in cold water mixture, cover meat.
Boil for 6 hours (covered) on slow heat.
Filter broth, remove some of the fat and reduce, remove bones, shred meat.
Lay meat in earthenware bowl, cover with cooled broth and leave to set.

Over time, I have altered the recipe and include bay leaves and peppercorns and I boil the pork without the vinegar only for about 3 hours (until I can see the meat falling off the bones).

Once it is cooked, I leave it to rest overnight.

The next day I remove the meat from the jelly, I add ½ cup of vinegar and the juice of a couple of lemons to the broth and reduce the liquid down to a third of the original amount.

I shred the meat and place it into a terrine and cover it with the cooled reduced stock. Any fat will rise to the surface and can be scraped off when it is cool (in fact, it acts as a seal).

SICILIAN CHEESE. A VISIT TO A MASSARO (farmer-cheese maker) IN RAGUSA. 

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