Italian Cured Meats
Do you know your salami from your soppressata?
All cultures developed ways of curing meats to preserve it in the days before refrigeration. Italy, however, has one of the richest of these traditions. In Italy, all of these meats are sliced and eaten as is, although here in the United States, we always cook pancetta.
A salami of salted, aged pork shoulder, rolled into a short, thick cylinder.
A fresh, cured pork sausage made throughout regions in northern Italy.
Similar to the meat that we know as bologna but with a more complex flavor, mortadella is a thick cylinder of cooked salami made with very finely ground pork, studded with whole peppercorns and cubes of white fat.
The Italian equivalent of bacon, but unsmoked. Pancetta is pork belly meat that is salted and spiced, then rolled into a thick cylinder like a salami, and aged.
A ham that has been salted and aged, but not smoked. Several areas in Italy make prosciutto, each with a characteristic difference, and they are named according to where they are produced. For example, Prosciutto di Modena and Prosciutto di Parma are hams produced in the region of Emilia Romagna; Prosciutto di San Daniele, is made in Friuli-VeneI Giulia; and Prosciutto Toscana is made in Tuscany. (In Italy, these hams are called prosciutto crudo, meaning raw ham, to distinguish them from prosciutto cotto, which is cooked ham.)
A general name for a cured sausage made with minced or ground lean meat and fat. While pork is certainly the most popular meat, salamis are also made with other meats, such as beef, wild boar, goose and turkey. There are many, many different salamis made in Italy — mortadella, coppa and soppressata are just a few.
A peppery, cured, aged salami from Calabria, in southern Italy.
A slab of pork leg that is cured, cold-smoked and aged. Speck is unusual in that cured meats in Italy are rarely smoked.
Depending on your needs, some cuts are better than others.