Today I bring in Sardinia, to watch the production of one of its most characteristic products: the fregula. It is a dried pasta made from durum wheat flour, It takes the form of small granules rounded, the size varying between 2 and 6 mm. The origins of fregula (often Italianized in ' fregola ') are ancient, could go back to the time of the Phoenicians and it's clear his resemblance with couscous. In Sardinia, It is one of the most versatile ingredients in the typical and regional cuisine. I have learned to appreciate it and use it in different ways: It is found from North to South, accompanied by fish and shellfish sauces, meats, vegetables, cheese. There is, Obviously, a production of industrial-scale made fregula, but there is still a huge craft production, wherein the fregula is fully prepared by hand, using traditional tools, first of all “SA xivedda”, the terracotta Bowl where you work your grits, that is sifted in ancient baskets which are then subdivided into three types: fregula end, medium and large.
To understand how the fregula craft, We were in Settimo San Pietro, little village in the province of Cagliaricon a strong tradition in the cultivation of grain and production of flour and bread. Here we observed the ability of the indefatigable Lory, owner of artisan bakery “The ancient traditions of the Lory”. His family produces bread and pasta for over 60 years and this bakery's Cookbook, soft ricotta sandwiches at civraxiu bread and bread loaf, have been handed down for generations.
For making fregula, Lory uses only three ingredients: durum wheat flour of the type “Senatore Cappelli”, water and eggs, in the dose of two eggs per litre water. The fregula is produced, especially in the industry, even without eggs, in order to respect those who have certain dietary requirements. The use of the egg, generally speaking, It is more frequent in the craft villages of Campidano (Centre South) compared to the countries of Central and Northern Sardinia.
The fregula is primarily a question of tact. With just the touch of fingertips, that must be trained and sensitive, you understand the exact amount of the mixture of water and eggs needed for grits to obtain a perfect fregula. In any case, with the liquid shall I do literally drop by drop.
Among the ingredients that can be added to the dough, that is without salt, tradition indicates only saffron. To get the right pasta shape is key on circular motion that the hand accomplishes in the earthen Bowl, using the fingertips to lift and rotate the semolina and without applying pressure otherwise you risk lumps. In other words, It is a gentle rubbing it, performed by expert hands, causes the grits start to thicken as you add the mixture of water and eggs. This circular motion, that should be run at a constant speed, continue until you get the size and texture you want.
Once formed, the fregula should be dried. At this stage, In fact, the fregula is still damp and humidity (that would undermine the conservation) will be removed in a very slow drying phase that the bakery “The ancient traditions of the Lory” place in oven. After baking the bread, that is, when the heat of the oven gets to 150 degrees, the fregula is placed in the oven now extinct, but still hot, and ascougare for about eleven and a half hours.
Finally, the fregula is sifted manually with the help of the classic Sardinian baskets, even these handmade with hay and Bulrush, that allow you to extract and separate the three classical measures of fregula (end, medium and large) with forward and backward movements of the arms. Once sifted, the fregula is portioned, packaged and ready to be sold. This product can be purchased at the price of 8 euros per kilo.
In the area of Logudoro and Meilogu and upper Oristano the fregula gives rise to “on Succu”, recipe prepared with fregula cooked in sheep broth with the addition of cheese tart. In Sardinian cuisine, the fregula has many uses, According to your size. One of the most famous recipes is the fregula with clams, for which you use the fregula grossa, It is also used in the preparation of “fregula incasada”, that is cooked in broth where you loose some’ Saffron and sprinkled with cheese. Small and medium sizes come in the preparations with vegetables but also in the many soups of Sardinian cuisine. In most creative recipes, is a great substitute for rice and, as rice, the fregula can be cooked in a pan or in tasty broths risotto made to obtain tasty dishes such as fregula risotto made with peppers, the soup of fregula with turnip greens and clams, the soup of fregula with clams or the Grouper all'acqua pazza, with fregula.