Pani ca' meusa
by: Antonino Buffa (Nino u' Ballerino)
Bread, spleen, calf lungs and trachea, ricotta cheese, caciocavallo stretched curd cheese.
The idea at the heart of Nino’s panino is to innovate a product within tradition that represents the historical symbol of Palermitano street food, the pani ca’ meusa, and not only improve it and make it more attractive for today’s clients, but also to make it known and appreciated outside of Palermo and Sicily. The Buffa family is a family of "meusa" appreciators of four generations, and Nino prepared his first spleen panino at four years of age. At the beginning of the 2000s the idea was born: with his experience and being able to adapt to the needs of clients who were continually after ‘lighter’ foods, Nino created his special version of the pani ca’ meusa. The spleen was no longer boiled as tradition would have it, but steamed in a special oven, retaining flavour and making the meat light and more easily digested. The bread is also the result of a special recipe made by Nino that requires natural rising of the bread as well as special doses of flour, water and salt that allow the bread to be extremely soft and light, as well as flavoursome. Of course great importance is given to the choice of ingredients, including the lard in which the spleen is cooked immediately before dressing the panino and the caciocavallo cheese – of course only Sicilian– used for the adapted version of the pani ca’ meusa. The result is that Nino’s spleen panino has 50% less calories that the original panino, which is still sold by other panino sellers. It retains its extremely delightful but light smell.
The Pani ca’ meusa, an exclusively Palermitano tradition, consists of a flat bread roll (vastella), covered with sesame, that is filled with slices of calf spleen, lung and trachea. The meat is then steamed well for 60 minutes. Once the cooking is finished, the meat is cut into small pieces and then briefly fried in lard in a special, slanted frying pan. The slant allows the lard to be heated in the lower part of the pan while the meat is positioned in the higher section of the pan and later cooked only at the moment of purchase. The panino can include grated caciocavallo cheese or ricotta cheese (in this case we say the panino is “married” to something else), with lemon or schettu – on its own. Nino’s recipe requires that the panino filling is made putting absorbent kitchen paper on one side, which is then removed upon serving but functions as a way to absorb excess oil and allow the panino to be lighter. The panino is served hot, into the hand of the customer, in panino paper.
The company in Monreale (PA) creates products with pasteurised Sardinian cow’s milk.
Bread of 00 flour produced by Frumens s.r.l. company in Palermo.