"This delicious dish using pane carasau is a quick, substantial one-dish meal for hungry shepherds or farmworkers. Typically, they would go out early in the morning and come back about 9.30 for a hearty breakfast that went into the centre of the table for everyone to share. I remember going hunting, leaving at 4.30am after just a coffee and a grappa, then stopping a couple of hours later for a big breakfast like this - followed by a late lunch after the hunting. In a couple of towns they use a sugo di carne (a ragù) instead of the passata to create a richer dish, and I like to add a little basil or parsley. (If your bunch of basil has any flowers, keep them to sprinkle over the pane frattau as a garnish.) I think this makes a great brunch dish."
- 4 eggs
- 8 sheets Sardinian flatbread (see note)
- 2 tbsp finely sliced basil leaves
- 150 gm aged Pecorino Sardo, grated
- For drizzling: extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 kg mutton bones, chopped (ask your butcher to do this)
- 1½ carrots, roughly chopped
- ½ large onion, roughly chopped
- 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
- 3 Roma tomatoes, quartered
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 3 fresh bay leaves
- ½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, torn
- 10 black peppercorns
- 20 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ onion, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, finely diced
- 1 kg very ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 3 basil sprigs, leaves picked, torn
- 1For mutton stock, place bones in a stockpot or large saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil, then strain and rinse well. Return mutton bones to a clean stockpot or large saucepan, cover with about 3 litres of fresh cold water – the bones should be completely submerged – then bring to the boil. Reduce heat, skim off any froth that rises to the surface, then add remaining ingredients and ¼ tsp sea salt flakes and simmer for 6-8 hours, skimming regularly to prevent the stock from going cloudy. If the liquid level drops so that the ingredients are uncovered, top up with a little cold water. Set aside to cool, then ladle through a sieve lined with muslin, discarding solids.
- 2Meanwhile, for passata, heat a saucepan over low-medium heat, add oil and, when hot, add onion and garlic and cook until soft but not coloured. Add tomato and basil, season to taste and bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tomato has completely broken down into a thick sauce (1 hour). If it dries out so much that it starts to stick, add a couple of tablespoons of water to loosen it up. Pass the tomato sauce through a mouli (see note), discarding skins and seeds. Store covered and refrigerated for a couple of days, or pack into sterilised jars and store in a cool, dark place for several months.
- 3Place passata in a saucepan and bring to the simmer. Keep warm over low heat.
- 4Combine 1 litre stock (freeze remainder for another use) and 1 tsp sea salt flakes in a small saucepan and bring to the simmer. Crack an egg into a cup and carefully slide it into the simmering stock. Repeat with a second egg. Cook eggs for 3 minutes then remove, using a slotted spoon, and place on paper towel to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggs.
- 5Transfer stock to a large, tall saucepan over low heat. Using tongs, dip a sheet of Sardinian flatbread in and out of the hot stock to just soften it. Place on a platter and spread about 4 tbsp of the passata over the top. Scatter about 1 tsp of the basil and 3 tbsp of the pecorino on top of this. Dip another sheet of Sardinian flatbread in the hot stock, place it on top of the pecorino,
top with more passata, basil and pecorino and continue the layering, finishing with a final layer of pecorino and a scattering of basil. Cut the stack into quarters, top each quarter with a poached egg, then place on plates. Drizzle with oil and serve.
Note Sardinian flatbread, pane carasau, is a thin, crisp double-baked bread unique to Sardinia. It's available from Icnussa Imports, Lario International, Simon Johnson (where it may be labelled carta di musica) and Pilu at Freshwater, and select other Italian delicatessens. When you're softening the bread, don't worry if some of the sheets break - just reassemble them in the stack. Passata is difficult to make without a mouli, but you could pass it through a sieve, pressing down with a ladle to extract as much liquid as possible. (Do not use a blender or food processor as it will pulverise the tomato seeds and spoil the flavour and colour.) When you drop the egg into the stock to poach it, the weight of the yolk pulls it down and the lighter white wraps up around the yolk enclosing it - in Italian this is called "in camicia" ("in a shirt"). This recipe is from the September 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller. A Sardinian Cookbook by Giovanni Pilu and Roberta Muir is published by Lantern, $49.99, hbk. This extract has been reproduced with minor GT style changes.