One leads to another. You just can’t say “stop!”
If you come to Abruzzo and look for something really typical, arrosticini are a must for your palate!
The arrosticino (or “rustella” in the eastern part of the region) is a grilled mutton skewer and represents the iconic dish of our regional tradition.
It is not a food improvisation but is the meticulous result of a homemade process that starts from the genius of the shepherds who practiced transhumance.
Shepherds who left for long pastures used the no longer productive sheep, mutton or lamb meat, which was cut into cubes of about 1 cm and then put on small spiked skewers obtained from the stems of aquatic plants along the banks of the rivers.
The traditional preparation of arrosticini, as it may seem easy, hides instead a wise distribution of lean meat and fat, which is essential to finding the perfect balance and make the meat moist, juicy, tender and tasty while grilling it.
In order to truly appreciate the “rustella”, which is ironically considered a “sacred dish” of the tradition by our people, specific rules need to be followed.
First of all, arrosticini have to be cooked on a skewer grill called “fornacella”, then they have to be devoured hot (as we don’t simply eat them, we devour them!) accompanied by a toasted bread with extra virgin olive oil. The best way to enjoy this moment is to be in a good company and drink our local robust red wine, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
A little advice: If you are caught devouring them with a fork or a knife, it will be considered a sacrilege. The arrosticino, in fact, has to be bitten on the side, in a snapping motion, as to pull off every piece of meat.
If it is true that traditional recipes are an indication of people, the arrosticino is without any doubt our most representative “dish”. Its strong and persistent flavour is obviously a faithful proof of our identity.