The Excellent Meat and Cheeses of the Brianzola Sheep
A number of traditional and more recent recipes make use of the lamb meat of the Brianzola breed, in addition to prosciutto and other types of luncheon meats. In the past, the Brianzola sheep used to be precious for the production of cheeses such as Montevecchia’s Furmagitt or Robiolini, now made with cow’s milk.
The Brianzola sheep
– It belongs to the pendulous-eared Alpine breeds destined to meat production. It resembles the more famous Bergamasca and Biellese, as well as the rarer Varesina and Langhe sheep breeds, all descending from the big Sudanic family. The main characteristics of this animal are the medium-tall height, the absence of horns in both sexes, the convex head profile, the total absence of spots on mucous membranes and the completely white fleece limited to the parts of the body which produce the best wool. The size is medium-big with and a weight of 90/100kg for the male specimens, and 65/80kg for the female. Brianzola sheep have always been bred in small groups on the lands adjacent the house of the farmer and during winter months they can be sheltered by the owner, who feeds them with the farm’s products.
A typical product, extraordinary in the kitchen
– The Brianzola Sheep Association was created in 1999 by a group of farmers, aiming to revive, safeguard, and promote this endangered breed, so deeply rooted in the culture of the territory. The Council of Lombardy appointed the Brianzola Lamb as one of the typical regional products in 2008. In order to achieve such designation, the farms in the Lecco, Como and Monza provinces need to adopt a “homestead” farming system pledging to good quality forage and therefore good quality meat. The Brianzolo lamb and hogget meat can only be tasted in a limited number of local restaurants supporting the project and offering traditional dishes, roasted or stewed, as well as a number of less traditional recipes that such as meat sauce, tartare, meatballs, marinated grilled meat, salami and prosciutto cotto
Meat, Cheese and Wool
– Generally speaking, the production of wool, cheese and meat has dominated the agropastoral history of the whole Alpine region, mainly promoting rustic sheep breeds with high quality wool. The small-sized cheeses, known as “furmagitt
” or “robiolini”, from Montevecchia, an old agricultural village in the Lecco province, have been an example of renowned cheese products since the beginning of the 20th century and their production was endangered, but the perseverance of the local cheese factory has kept the tradition alive and we can still taste them nowadays. It is a type of fresh cheese, typical of the Lombard and Piedmontese areas, originally made with sheep’s milk, later replaced by cow’s milk. It can be made with either cow’s milk only or in combination with sheep’s milk whereas goat milk is used in the mountains.
Artecibo editorial board
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