Livigno, (Sondrio) Lombardy
Typical dish of the Upper Valtellina and the Livigno area in particular, Borzat is a special cured meat made up of sheepskin sacks filled with the meat and fat of the same animal.
In the past, during the winter Borzat was preserved in glazed terracotta jars called brentel, and completely covered in sheep fat to store it longer.
Also called Borsat, this cured meat is presented as a rectangular packet of sheep’s skin, filled with sheep flesh, then sewn together by hand. The colour of the meat is dark red, almost brown, and it weighs from 1 to 3 kilograms.
Borzat is a typical product of Livigno in Upper Valtellina. On the far northern tip of Lombardy, Upper Valtellina sits between the mountains of the Ortles – Cevedale group, the main group of the Central Alps, and the Cima Piazzi group, with peaks that touch on the 4000 metre above sea level mark.
The zone offers almost 90 square kilometres of green woods and grazing areas, ski fields and glaciers, extraordinary environmental resources in a unique district in terms of its openness to and offer for tourism.
To make Borzat you need about a 30 x15 centimetre piece of sheepskin, together with the fatty part under the skin, and a variable quantity of between about 500 and 800 grams of small pieces of diced sheep flesh. Sauté the meat and some of the fat over a high flame then add garlic, salt pepper and cinnamon. When the filling is ready, place the mixture on the piece of sheepskin and sew up the edges with cotton thread, so as to form a packet. Lastly, sear the hairs on the skin over the flame and scrape it with a knife to clean it completely.
Because it is in quite an isolated position, the community of Livigno has always been used to organising itself independently. In the past, during the winter closure of the passes, survival depended on storing enough supplies and taking resources from cured foods like meats, salamis and cheese.
Progress has not changed traditions, although it has led to the export of these precious resources outside the valley.
Connected to the neighbouring valleys by alpine passes and by tunnels, Livigno is also a duty-free zone, an aspect that has favoured the flourishing development of business, not least of which the business connected to food and gastronomic specialties.
Borzat has a strong and characteristic flavour typical of sheep flesh.
How to consume it
Borzat is eaten after boiling it for about 2 and half hours, then serving it in slices.