The first time I’ve been in London, I had dinner in a pub. That night, a dish among all captured my attention: a pork pie. A recipe that, although being a traditional English one, wasn’t totally new to me.
I had never seen it before, but it looked so familiar to me because the first thing I thought when seeing it was: “It looks so similar to Panada!”.
Panada is a traditional Sardinian pie. More precisely, I’d rather say it is originating from Assemini, the town near Cagliari where I grown up, but I may sound too localist 😉 Indeed, Assemini is not the only city in our region that claims to be the place where Panada was actually born (the other main claimer being Oschiri, in the North).
Beyond all the questions about the origin of such a delicacy, this pie has been widespread in many parts of Sardinia for thousands years.
The reason is simple: this cooking technique is great to maintain and enhance the flavours of all the ingredients. Inside the pastry, they cook protected and can be easily preserved at length. This is why Panada has become so important in the agri-pastoral culture of our island: it was the perfect food for land workers and their families, due to its long-life (and great taste!)
Panada was traditionally filled with eels, but it’s now common to find it filled with vegetables and/or meat, lamb mainly. A friable pastry that keeps a fragrant, flavourful filling that tastes of traditions and Sardinia.
A few weeks ago, Mirko was visiting his family in Sardinia, so we had the chance to cook (and eat) some food together. This recipe was one of those!
Here’s my heritage recipe of this pie, filled the way my family has always done it: with potatoes and lamb.
Panada – Sardinia potato and lamb pie
Ingredients (serves 6/8)
For the dough:
- Durum wheat semolina, 700 gr. (or 24.70 oz)
- Lard, room temperature, 70 gr. (or 2.47 oz) – you can use butter instead
- Lukewarm water, about 300 gr. (or 10.58 oz, or 1 1/4 cups)
- Salt, 14 gr. (or 0.49 oz, or 2 tsp)
For the filling:
- Potatoes, cut into slices about 8mm thick, 600 gr. (or 21.16 oz)
- Lamb, cut into pieces, 1 Kg (or 35.27 oz)
- Sun-dried tomatoes, 50 gr. (or 1.76 oz)
- Garlic, 3/4 cloves
- Fresh parsley, approx. 20 gr. (or 1/2 cup)
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- Extravirgin olive oil
Prepare the Panada pastry
Combine the semolina, the salt, the room temperature lard and approximately half of the water initially, then adding the remaining water little by little, if needed. It will depend on the semolina you are using! Knead it vigorously until it is smooth, then let it rest for about 30 minutes in the fridge.
Prepare the Panada filling
Cut the lamb into pieces, not too small ones, and the potatoes into slices about 8mm thick. Mince the parsley and the garlic, cut the sun-dried tomatoes into little pieces.
In a bowl, put the lamb meat, the parsley, the garlic, the salt and pepper, the sun-dried tomatoes and some extravirgin olive oil. Be generous with the oil, as it needs to dress all the meat.
Set aside 1/3 of the dough for the lid of the pie. With the rolling pin, roll the remaining 2/3 of the pastry to about 5/7 mm thick.
Grease a baking pan (approx. 28cm diameter) and line it with the rolled 2/3 of the pastry.
Arrange inside, in layers, the raw ingredients, starting with the potatoes, then the meat, then the potatoes again, and repeat until the pie is filled to the pan edge. Normally I put three layers of potatoes and two layers of meat inside the pie, but it is not important how many layers you arrange: what cares the most is that you lay potatoes firstly and lastly. Since the potatoes are not flavoured yet, season them with a pinch of salt and pepper before adding the meat.
When all the layers are arranged, add some Extravirgin olive oil (approximately 2 tablespoons).
Cover the pie with the lid (the 1/3 of the pastry you set aside before), seal it accurately to the base and cut the exceeding part of the dough, being careful that the borders stick out from the baking pan slightly.
It is now time to decorate the pie edges. The traditional closure technique is similar to a braid, and it’s made by rolling little parts of the edges at a time and pressing it over it. If you aren’t sure about your braiding skills, just use your fantasy – and a fork perhaps – to create the decoration you like.
Cook the Panada pie in a pre-heated oven for 1 hour and 40 minutes at 200°C (392°F). The pie has to be golden brown.
Take it out of the oven and enjoy it with your family and friends. You’ll be amazed by the gorgeous fragrance you will smell as soon as you’ll cut the pastry lid!
Panada – Sardinian potatoes and lamb pie
- Prep time: 20 minutes for the dough, 20 minutes to prepare the ingredients, 20 minutes to make the pie, 1 hour and 40 minutes to cook it
- Yield: serves 6/8
- Tips: If the dough is too much for the pie, why not try to create some breadsticks, cover them with seeds or herbs and cook them? YUM!