Sardinian Sheet Music Bread with Lamb Sauce

Pane Frattau col Sugo di Agnello

I had come to the mountainous Barbagia district in eastern Sardinia to observe the making of pane carasau, the celebrated wafer-thin bread. We stopped for the night at Su Gologone, a handsome resort whose restaurant serves a broad variety of Sardinian specialties. I was puzzled at dinner to find among the first courses a dish called pane frattau. “Is this yet another kind of bread?” I asked our waiter. “No,” he said. “It is always pane carasau—sheet music bread—but it is called frattau when cooked like pasta and served with lamb sauce.”

Once I had discovered how to make my own carasau at home, I was eager to try it as frattau. When served, it resembles the loose, soft lasagne-like dish called piccagge that is made on the Riviera. The cooked bread has excellent, sturdy flavor that is a perfect match for the lamb sauce. It takes less than a minute for it to cook, so you must stay right on top of it to make sure it isn’t overdone.

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Ingredients

For the Sauce

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped fine
  • cup chopped celery
  • ½ teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ pound ground beef chuck
  • ½ pound boned lamb shoulder, cut into fine dice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups canned imported Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • Salt
  • Black pepper ground fresh

For the Frattau

  • Salt
  • 12 disks Sardinian Sheet Music Bread, made as described
  • cups freshly grated mellow Sardinian or Tuscan pecorino sheep’s milk cheese or ½ cup grated Romano cheese mixed with 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

A warm, deep serving platter

A colander spoon

Method

Making the Sauce

  1. Put the oil and chopped onion in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan and turn on the heat to medium high. Cook the onion, stirring from time to time, until it becomes colored a very pale gold.
  2. Add the carrot, celery, garlic, and parsley. Stir with a wooden spoon for about 1 minute to coat all ingredients well, then add the ground beef and the diced lamb. Turn the meat over for a minute or two to brown it on all sides.
  3. Add the wine and let it bubble gently for a couple of minutes, while scraping loose with the wooden spoon any browning residues from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, salt, and generous grindings of pepper; turn over all ingredients; then adjust the heat so that the sauce put-puts sporadically at the gentlest of simmers. Cook for 1 hour, stirring from time to time. If you are ready to cook the pane frattau, keep the sauce simmering slowly.

Cooking and Saucing Pane Frattau

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt; and, as the water resumes boiling, drop in six disks of sheet music bread. After no more than 1 minute, retrieve the bread with a slotted spoon or skimmer, and spread it out on the warm serving platter. Cover with part of the sauce and sprinkle with grated cheese. Cook the other six disks in the same manner, laying them out in the platter, covering with the remaining sauce, and sprinkling with the rest of the grated cheese. Serve at once.

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