A classic Falsomagro turns into a pic-nic delight alla Siciliana
When I think about meat based recipes in the area of Ragusa, the main recipes that come to mind are pork based ones. With our sausage with fennel seeds and chilly flakes served with sinapu (mustard greens), stuffed pork chops, cured sausage and grilled pancetta, there is no doubt that pork is the favourite meat in the area. However, especially in the past, with the arrival of Spring pork meat consumption was stopped. Special buthcheries selling only pork meat would close their door and say goodbye until Autumn. There was a clear idea that fat meat had to be avoided during the summer heat. Today, pork is much leaner and people tend not to be as particular about this, but I remember that my grandmother used to change her Sunday menu as soon as spring arrived and banned pork meat from her kitchen. Her favourite Spring Sunday lunch meat dish was a traditional falsomagro. The name farsumagro means "false lean" because when you take it to the table it looks like a piece of lean meat, then when you slice it, the rich stuffing is a great tasty surprise: fresh spinach, mortadella, mince meat, hard boiled eggs, cheese, etc. You can find the falsomagro recipe here. This recipe seems to date back to the XIII century during the House of Anjou domination of Sicily. Originally, it was a way to stretch the meat budget and was stuffed only with a bread crumbs mixture, but the recipe was then taken to a different level by some of the chefs working for the Sicilian aristocracy. I find it a great dish to make all year round, but with the use of fresh spinach and hard-boiled eggs that my grandmother could not do without, there is no question that she was right in making this her spring meat favourite dish. This year, I am planning to prepare traditional pastieri to have on Easter Sunday and then a special falsomagro which is also a fantastic Easter Monday pic-nic main course. Just take a thick slice and place it in a nice round pagnottella or rosetta (two kinds of round shaped bread) and take it with you to have in the countryside or by the seaside. Kids love it and grown ups will just need a good glass of Sicilian Nero d’Avola to enjoy it at its best. Happy Easter!