Salted mutton - Michischia
“Micischia” (Vicischia, Vicicchia, Mucischia) was closely associated with migrant sheep-breeding activity and was given different names in different places in the Abruzzo mountains.
Currently its production is limited to a few mountain villages and relegated to special occasions that keep up old traditions. “Micischia” is prepared with mutton, or occasionally goat, from old sheep that are not too fat, completely boned, dressed with salt and pepper, then left to dry naturally.
It has a brown colour, with a compact and firm structure, and the flavour is distinctive, tasty and rather strong, perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but from a nutritional point of view, it is has high protein and low fat contents.
During preparation the animal is completely gutted and boned whole.
The most suitable meat for “micischia” is the lower part of the shoulder, which is kept in a single piece and spread out on a table, then opened to give it a uniform and not excessive thickness, in order to facilitate the penetration of the salt and other aromas (pepper, hot chilli pepper and rosemary); lastly it is pierced with willow branches or canes and hung in adequately ventilated rooms to dry naturally. Once it has dried it can be preserved in cellars or dry rooms.
“Micischia”, like other forms of meat that do not require cooking, but are cured naturally, originated in the transhumance of flocks in the mountains of Abruzzo, which circulated it over the years along the sheep tracks that linked the region to Apulia. Sadly, from the 1960s transhumance declined, and so did the production and consumption of this meat to a great extent.