Su Filindeu in Mutton Broth with Pecorino and Lamb Neck Fillet

Su filindeu in mutton broth with lamb and pecorino

To say this recipe is a labour of love is a massive understatement. Your first challenge is to get your hands on some su filinideu pasta. That's not going to be easy because only a handful of people in a remote part of Sardinia know the secret to making it.

Get your credit card ready because this stuff is expensive.

The next challenge is sourcing the meat. Mutton isn’t that popular in the UK so you'll need to find a good halal butcher who can supply you diced mutton. You could use lamb, but your broth will lack the strong, slightly-gamey taste which is a hallmark of older sheep.

Incorporating extra meat into the dish is not traditional, but when we've gone to this much effort getting hold of ingredients we really want this recipe to wow. As for getting hold of a lamb neck fillet, you may need to head online, although in truth any of the "tough cuts" that need long, slow cooking such as shoulder, shank and leg will be just as good.

Your final quest is to source fresh Pecorino. It's completely different to the hard, aged stuff that supermarkets sell. For utter authenticity, here we're using fresh Pecorino Sardo (i.e. from Sardinia) which has a strong but enjoyably sharp taste.

Pro tip
We favour using "closed" environments when cooking tough cuts of meat (for which we use sous vide) or making stocks and broths (for which we use a pressure cooker). Both keep evaporation to a minimum which enables cooks to retain the flavours that would normally be lost into the atmosphere.

For the sake of regular home cooks though, the instructions below are designed for more everyday kitchen equipment.

For the lamb neck fillet

Ingredients for cooking lamb neck

Lamb neck fillet x1
Salt as needed
Pepper as needed
Black garlic x1 clove
Anchovies x3 fillets
Olive oil as needed
Shallots x1
Fresh rosemary x1 bunch

Start by sprinkling a little salt and pepper over the neck fillet and mash all the other ingredients into a paste. Put the meat and marinade into a zip-lock bag and marinate overnight.

To cook, submerge the meat in a flavourful liquid (i.e. wine, stock etc.) and simmer as gently as possible until the meat is tender and falling apart. This could take anywhere from 1-2 hours.

Shred the lamb neck and refrigerate until needed.

For the mutton broth
Note: As a general rule, broths are made with meat, stocks are made with bones. If you can only get hold of bone-in mutton, remove the meat and save the bones for making stock.

Our number one aim here is to create a broth that has oodles of body and flavour whilst also being crystal clear. That's not to say it won't have colour, but su filindeu is the star of the show in this dish and we want to be able to see it in its full glory.

Mutton Broth Ingredients

Oregano 1g
Star anise
x1 small
Fresh bay leaf
x1 small
Salt to taste

Chop the mutton into pea-sized chunks (or even better, coarsely grind it if you have the equipment). Usually we would recommend browning the meat to unlock all the complex flavours that result, but for this dish we want a light coloured broth. (Caramelised meat provides a deep-brown colour broth which is sought after in some settings; just not this one.)

Put the diced mutton in a saucepan of cold water, bring it to a boil, remove from the heat and scoop off the fat and impurities that rise to the surface. Drain, clean the saucepan and recharge with fresh water.

Dice the onion, carrot and celery into pea-size chunks, slice the garlic and add to your pan along with the herbs and aromatics.

Simmer as gently as humanly possible for 2-3 hours.  Don't feel you need to constantly babysit it, but do try and regularly scoop off any impurities that rise to the surface.

Strain the broth through a sieve to take out the chunky ingredients, then again through cheesecloth to take out the smaller particles.

Stop here and you've got the basis of an epic dinner.

Optional step: clarify your broth

How to clarify broth for su filindeu filindeu
Culinary wizard Dave Arnold once described his need to clarify liquids as a “sickness” and it’s one we share. There’s just something quite satisfying about taking a murky sauce or liquid and making it crystal clear.

The surprising ingredient you need to clarify your broth is egg white. Simply whisk together two egg whites with a tablespoon of water. Bring your broth to a rolling boil, remove from the heat and whisk in the egg whites.

Walk away and leave it untouched for five minutes, during which time the egg will coagulate and float to the surface, taking any remaining impurities with it. Scoop them off and you should be left with a completely clear liquid.

Now's a good time to text your foodie mates and tell them that you have, quite legitimately, made your first consommé.

It's arguably overkill, but at this stage we strain one more time through a super fine-pore coffee filter. All you need to do now is season to taste with salt. As a general guide, we weigh the amount of broth and add 0.75% of its weight in salt.

Right, let's eat...

Su filindeu mise en place

Su filindeu pasta 80g pp
Mutton broth 250g pp
Lamb neck fillet 80g pp
Fresh Pecorino 30g pp

Remove the lamb and broth from the fridge, break the pasta into chunky pieces and grate or chop the cheese.

Bring the broth to a simmer and add the pasta and lamb. Cook until the pasta is al dente and the lamb is warmed through, about 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the Pecorino and serve in warmed bowls.

Savour every mouthful in the knowledge that you are one of the few people on the planet who has ever eaten, and quite possibly ever will eat, this legendary dish.

Su filindeu finished dish