We eat it to save it, because never as in this case, more than the meat itself, is the story and the territory behind it
The turning point of the Cabannina in the kitchen it starts with Roberto Panizza, known for his Pesto Rossi, a staunch supporter of the pesto in the mortar: "do it as you wish, but without a mortar there is no comparison". Owner of the Ristorante il Genovese, opened since 1912, where as a child he worked as a waiter, about a decade ago he felt the need to put some local meat on his menu, which being in Genoa, a seaside town, was more what else is fish based. This is how you remember her: the cabannina. Because as already demonstrated by the white cuisine, Liguria is not only sea, rather it is also and above all land. In fact, we forget too often that the Ligurians, rather than fishermen, are farmers and breeders; of goats, sheep and cabannine cows.
The small Ligurian cattle breed
There Cabannina is the only authentically Ligurian bovine breed, which takes its name from Cabanne, a fraction of the municipality of Rezzoaglio, in the upper Val d’Aveto. In the past it was simply called "nostrana", then it was renamed in honor of this area, because if it is still with us today, we must thank this valley, where the cabannines have been kept and kept hidden when barbarous laws imposed its replacement with races. more productive. The cabannina, in fact, has always been a dairy cow, which, however, produces very little milk, although of great quality. For this reason, after the war it was banned from being sold due to low profitability. Moreover, it has three main characteristics: it is very small, ideal for the restricted and inaccessible Ligurian lands; it is very rustic, it resists well in the wild, eating herbs and leaves and is well adapted (and selected) in the difficult mountains of the hinterland; finally, it has a dark mantle with reddish shades, with a characteristic light stripe on the back.
The cabannina in the kitchen
When about ten years ago Roberto Panizza set off on the trail of the cabannina, he discovered that only a little over 700 animals had remained in the territory of the Genoa area, or the area around the city that corresponds to the former Republic of Genoa. Initially starting from the recovery of its cheeses, being precisely a dairy cow: ricotta cheese, formaggetta, toma; or other more specific ones such as u Cabanin, Sarassu, one seasoned ricotta or the prescinseua, a fresh cheese, very delicate, with a typically Ligurian flavor, with raw milk without ferments, produced by a few like Paolo Castagnola ofCimma company. But being the purpose of Roberto to insert the meat, he decided to buy a 12-year-old cow and to prepare the only dish with which he could use all the parts, without waste: this is how the cabannina meatballs, which today are very successful on its menu. They are prepared with meat, eggs and bread, but the Ligurian touch that makes them different, besides the cabannina meat, is the marjoram, spice symbol of the Ligurian essence in the mouth. They are present both in the white version with the Cabannina cheese fondue; is red with the tuccu, the quintessential Genoese red sauce, prepared with a piece of meat that flakes in cooking along with pine nuts, onion and clove nails. And always with the Tuccu, Roberto has also included the cabannina ravioli.
Breeders, the Aparc, the Exhibition and the Presidium
From this moment on, attention is rekindled for this breed, both in breeding and in the kitchen. Certainly, we must thank all those breeders who have never abandoned it over time and have not stopped believing in it, leaving it free to pasture or hiding it among the valleys. Over the years, in addition to the milk and cheese production, we started thinking and improve the quality of its meat, even if they are always small, mostly family businesses, with few items; in short, in harmony with the Ligurian spirit, which is characterized, perhaps in everything, by small productions of great quality. The interest in cabannina has grown so much that it has become a Slow Food Presidium and the Aparc, the Cabannina Breed Breeders Producers Association, was born with Paolo Castagnola as President, that every September organizes a party in his honor, the Exhibition Razza Cabannina. It could not be otherwise given the devotion that his custodians, like him, have towards them: "the Cabannina has saved many people from the hunger in the Ligurian hinterland, only with milk and cheese. For this reason it is first of all a slice of our local culture, which would otherwise vanish".