Every Easter, the small town of San Martino sul Fiora in Tuscany’s south holds its annual Sagra dell’Agnello. At its helm is the large and gregarious Demio, famous three towns over for his buglione d’agnello.
Buglione in the local Maremman dialect means “a mixture of various things”, but in this traditional recipe, only one type of meat is used – lamb. It’s native to these parts, or at least, that’s what the locals will tell you. Like many of the Maremma’s most famous dishes, buglione d’agnello is fiercely and stubbornly claimed by a number of towns.
A buglione is a rich and dense tomato stew. In other parts of the Maremma, it’s made with wild game, hare, boar or pheasant, and sometimes even snails. But in San Martino sul Fiora, it’s always made with lamb, stewed slowly over an open fire with nothing more complicated than a sprig of rosemary and garlic, half a glass of wine and sun-ripened tomatoes picked on the morning of the sagra.
To get a taste of this buglione d’agnello, you have to get in early. There is never enough and it always sells out fast to greedy locals who can’t resist the melt-in-the-mouth tender meat and lush sauce.
But don’t worry, this dish is easy to make at home. All you need is a heavy based saucepan and a bit of patience. If you’re worried about the lamb tasting too gamey, soak it overnight in enough red wine to cover and then rinse before browning.
In the Maremma, this dish is served almost like a soup. Thick slices of toasted bread are rubbed with garlic and placed at the bottom of a bowl. The sauce is spooned on top and the bread is left to soften before being topped with the juicy pieces of lamb.
With a glass of local red wine, the Brunello di Montalcino or Morellino di Scansano are the locals’ favourite, this Tuscan stew is perfect for a chilly Fall evening.