East Lombardy’s dish of the month: Cuz Cappelletti in forest broth

At Orio al Serio Airport the signature dish by Michele Valotti, from La Madia in Brione (Bs): will be served throughout December with a degustation of cheeses, a bottle of S.Pellegrino and a glass of Franciacorta.

You say "cuz" and you think of Corteno Golgi, a village in the Camonica Valley. It is here, that for an almost immemorial amount of time, sheep meat has been cooked in its own fat in order to conserve it for the winter. “A confit-style cooking, before the term was invented, that hasn’t changed over time”, tells Michele Valotti, the 43-year-old chef from La Madia restaurant in Brione, in the province of Brescia.
His “cuz” is the filling for the “Cuz Cappelletti in forest broth” that is the December dish for East Lombardy, European Region of Gastronomy 2017 in partnership with S.Pellegrino, and it will be served with a degustation of cheeses, a bottle of S.Pellegrino and a glass of Franciacorta at WineGate11 in the “Italy loves food” food court at Orio al Serio Airport for the entire month.

Cuz is a deep-rooted speciality: the meat from the giant Bergamasco sheep breed is cooked in its own fat, once used as a way to conserve it during the winter. In the past it was mainly a seasoning for polenta or a reinforcement for broths and soups, but Valotti uses it to make exquisite cappelletti pasta. 

The Chef Michele Valotti


“Eating sheep is part of the valley’s culture - explains Valotti - For me it represents the best of the territory. We make the cuz with the giant Bergamasco breed, a native sheep that lives in extensive farms and has a "grass fed" diet. This allows the meat to remain delicate. At La Madia restaurant we always have at least four dishes with a base of sheep meat (like the Pecora Arsa , a video recipe recorded by the chef for East Lombardy in the cooking school Arte del Convivio) and we prepare the cuz by cooking the giant Bergamasco sheep meat at a low temperature in its fat, adding only herbs and salt”. Even though in the past cuz was mainly a seasoning for polenta or a reinforcement for broths and soups, Valotti uses it to make exquisite cappelletti pasta.

“To season the dish that will be served at the Orio al Serio Airport, I wanted to recall the scent of the fermenting leaves in the forest, preparing a broth with barley miso and dried mushrooms”, continues the chef who will personally prepare both the cappelletti and the broth, leaving the staff of WineGate 11, coordinated by Vittorio Fusari, to assemble the dish.

“I am satisfied with the EastLombardy initiative which allowed the territory to speak and to become known and allowed for the appreciation of its raw materials”, notes Valotti who gave La Madia a very precise identity. “I use products from small local producers contaminating them with some fermentation techniques which, however, are not typical of our preparations. My perspective in the kitchen is that of exchange, of mixture that is not an aseptic replication of something, I do not like entrenchment”, says the chef who, before going to the stove, studied philosophy and sometimes dusts it off. “In life - he concludes - no experience must be thrown away”.

By Mariella Caruso

East Lombardy is the European region
of gastronomy 2017