Corteno Golgi (Brescia), Lombardy
Sheep flesh preserved in its own fat, Cuz is one of the typical specialties of the municipality of Corteno Golgi, in the province of Brescia.
Local sheep flesh is preferably used to make Cuz, one to three-year-old mutton or wether meat. The whole animal without the giblets, the meat from the head, the blood and the skin, is cut into pieces and boiled for 4 in very little water, with salt and a few herbs such as sage.
Cuz is a dark red colour and is a very slowly cooked stew of sheep flesh stew. The product is then preserved under fat throughout winter, in terracotta recipients called ule.
Cuz is a typical product of Corteno Golgi in the province of Brescia, a village that the Valleys of Campovecchio branch out from. Amongst incomparably beautiful scenarios, the peculiarities of these valleys are the timber bridges covered by roofs.
Corteno is a leading tourist centre and has now oriented its economic development towards tourism, taking advantage of the abundant snow of the Aprica in winter and the green, lush vegetation in the other seasons. There are innumerable tours and excursions to be done on foot, on horseback, on mountain-bikes, starting out from each of the historical centres and following trails and ancient mule tracks.
Apart from that, the town of Corteno Golgi is also famous for being the birth place of the Nobel prizewinner, Camillo Golgi, (Corteno, 7 July 1843 – Pavia, 21 January 1926) discoverer of the so-called black reaction that made it possible to see nerve cells under a microscope. Modern neurohistology is based on his studies.
The production of Cuz began when it was customary for the Brescian shepherds to eat sheep and wethers that were wounded during migratory herding, simply cooking meat to preserve it.
These wounded sheep were cut into pieces and placed in a copper pot called caldera, normally used to make cheese. Already in the past, it was cooked in very little water and very slowly, without stirring. Furthermore, the story goes that the meat from different animals (characterised by different grazing food), made this antique Brescian recipe even tastier.
Chop up the flesh of a sheep or several sheep and place it over a slow flame to cook, only adding salt.
To prevent the meat from sticking to the pan, make sure the fattier parts of the meat are on the bottom. It takes about 3-4 hours to cook, without ever mixing the meat; only the pan should be moved every now and then to prevent the same piece of meat from staying in contact with the sides for too long. Once cooked, remove the product and place it in the cuviol. Then cover it with a layer of fat, taken from the cooking pot, so it will keep longer.
Cuz is prepared using the meat from the Corteno sheep, a race traditionally raised in the Brescia area and common to the Corteno Valley, between Valtellina and Valcamonia.
It is a medium-sized race with a height to the withers of about 73 centimetres and a weight of around 60 kilograms. It has no horns and the head is not heavy. The front-nasal profile is moderately mountainous and the ears are semi-drooping. The fleece is open and white, although pigmentations are not rare.
With an intense sheep flavour, Cuz has quite a strong, but anything but unpleasant flavour.
How to consume it
Cuz goes very well with a nice plate of cornmeal polenta or boiled potatoes and should be eaten hot, although it can also be enjoyed cold.
Placed in terracotta or glass recipients and covered in fat, with the further addition of salt, it will keep until the following autumn.