Mazzafegato, a Slow Food Presidium, is a sausage that originated in Central Italy and is associated in particular with the upper Tiber valley, on the border between Umbria and Tuscany.
In this area, Mazzafegato (also known as sanbudello in Tuscany) was, until a few decades ago, a “poor” relative of the sausage, always present on the table in autumn and winter and strongly linked to the tradition of household pork butchering. During slaughtering season, every family that owned pigs produced Mazzafegati to be consumed soon thereafter (it was typical for family members to prepare and consume Mazzafegati all together) or, occasionally, to be stored under lard, in oil, or in wheat or semolina.
The basic ingredients for Mazzafegato are the parts of the pig that are not used in other preparations: lungs, heart, liver, and scraps. The type of flavorings used varies from producer to producer, and the secrets of the recipe are passed down orally in each community.
Mazzafegato is the last product that is prepared, after the rest of the meat has been transformed and all that remains on the butchering table is the scraps. These leftovers are coarsely chopped and a small amount of rind and liver is added. The chopped meat and offal is then seasoned with salt, pepper, a little garlic, lemon and/or orange peel, and, most importantly, fennel flowers, which, together with the coarse texture of the sausage, is Mazzafegato’s characteristic feature. The mixture is left to rest for some time and then stuffed into a natural pork casing called torto. The links are tied by hand with string, and each sausage is about 10 centimeters long and 3 cm in diameter. They are left to dry for 7-10 days, after which they are ready for consumption.
Mazzafegato is traditionally cooked on the grill and eaten with sautéed wild greens. The sausage has a dark color, and the aroma of fennel flowers is unmistakable, but not so strong that it covers the flavors of the meat and other seasonings. This traditional sausage was born from the need to use the whole pig and it expresses the skill of butchers in turning “leftovers” into a complex and much sought-after product.
How It’s Made is a new format for Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2020. They are accessible for free on this site! This episode was produced by the Umbria Region’s Project for Rural Development.