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Mutton Kebabs - Arrosticini


Spreaders in almost the whole region are the small kebabs, thin skewers of ovine meat cooked on charcoal, to taste boiling; there is no popular party, festival or outing in which they are not present, even for their convenience of consumption. Many "specialized" trattorias are renowned for the goodness of this inviting popular food that unites. It is a preparation of probable Balkan origin, but present and widespread in the Abruzzi territory for centuries and today more than ever representative of the local culinary tradition.

The product is found all over Abruzzo and especially in the mountains and foothills. They are prepared from mutton with a fat content of around 25%, cubed  to  1cm  square  and  threaded  onto  reed  skewers.  The  fat  content makes them tasty and tender. Immediately after butchering the meat is hung to mature and acidify in cold cells or, during winter, in cool premises, for at least three days but for no longer than a week.

The end product consists of skewers of meat weighing 20-30g, with a red colour that varies in intensity according to the age of the animal; the meat may be seasoned with natural flavourings (chilli pepper, sage, onion) and may be mixed with pork or beef. “Arrosticini” are grilled over oak or charcoal embers and are served hot. Sometimes the meat is drizzled with olive oil mixed with vinegar and salt.

In the past the use of mutton as part of the staple diet of shepherds and the poorer  classes  was  linked  to  transhumance  and  shepherd  culture.

Nowadays, on the other hand, these little mutton kebabs are a highly popular dish. Their unique flavour has always been successful with consumers and that is why the “arrosticino” is counted as one of the most traditional, original and characteristic food items in Abruzzo.


The meat for this product comes from suitable male or female sheep with the right amount of fat and structure, in any case no longer able to produce and reproduce, or that have reached the end of useful life. The meat is stored in cold cells, or in winter in cool premises, for at least three days but no longer than a week, to foster acidification; the meat is hung to make it tender and appetizing.

Subsequently  the  meat  portions  are  boned,  leaving  about  20-25%  of  fat,  in  slices about 1cm thick, which are then placed in a square container with vertical slots and the base closed by perforated Teflon covers. The meat is layered inside the container and pressed lightly, then wooden skewers are inserted along the length of the container.  Finally the meat is cubed with a narrow blade steel knife.

The product must be consumed fresh within four days or it must be frozen. Materials, specific equipment used in preparation and conditioning: the materials used are:

- square stainless steel container with vertical slots and two Teflon base covers with

perforations 1cm apart;

- narrow blade steel knife;

- wooden skewers.


Consumption of mutton kebabs is linked to the history and culture of sheep farming.

L.T. 12-01-2020

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