How do you make these arrosticini? Layers of meat and fat, usually goat or lamb along with some seasonings, are pushed into a metal form called a taglia arrosticini. It’s like one of those boxes magicians use with slots where the swords go in to make you think the scantily clad helper babe will be skewered—only it’s smaller.
(The arrosticini in the picture are made of liver. In the Abruzzo life has been a bit hardscrabble. You don’t waste a thing. They even use some liver in their sausages.)
After the meat has been pressed into the form, the bamboo or metal skewers are threaded through a plastic piece on top to puncture the meat and come to rest in a little recess in the plastic bottom piece so you know they’re straight. Now you have a stainless steel box full of precisely skewered meat pieces. You should not put this on the seat of your car and drive erratically away from your dinner party. Imagine explaining that to the friendly but concerned constabulary.
In any case, if you have followed along there are now hundreds of potential spiedini or, as they say in the Abruzzo, arrosticini awaiting the knife.
The knife goes in the taglia arrosticini slots one by one until everything is cut through.
Now you can remove the meat and you’ll have a sheet of skewered meat (with fat!!!!! Important!!!!!) that will fall apart into little kaboby things the Greeks would call Souvlaki. They use pretty much the same instrument.
Spiedini, arrosticini, and souvlaki are little cubes of skewered meat. This is not your American kabob. You do not put a hind quarter of steer on a skewer and set it atop a football stadium sized fire-pit. Arrosticini cook quickly and uniformly on a furnacell, a long and slender grill that just heats the meat and lets the sticks hang over the sides so they don’t burn. Clever, no?
But that’s not all. The size of the slots in the taglia arrosticini is very carefully conceived. That’s why you notice a uniformity among these measurements. Yes, somewhere in antiquity some smart dude or dudette figured out the exact cross-section of meat that would cook fully without burning the stick it was skewered with. Even cleverer, no?
And the big boys have an industrial powered taglia arrosticini that would make you proud, zapping out the arrosticini by the tens of thousands. They need that many during the world cup and other important ball-kicking events.
Now I’m hungry again. I’ve got to stop writing about food.