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Cured Meats: Salami's just the beginning

In the days before refrigeration curing meats, especially beef and pork, guaranteed a supply of meat throughout the warmer months when spoilage was an ever-present danger. Cured meats are also wonderfully tasty, and an excellent way to begin a meal or enjoy a sandwich. Recipes, tips and more.

Recipe requests come in waves. In winter, people write for instructions on making cold cuts from pork: Salami, prosciutto, salsiccia, finocchiona, pancetta, and so on, which are collectively referred to as salumi. In the past these were all made when hogs were butchered in late fall or early winter, and set aside to guarantee a supply of meat during the warmer months when uncured meats would spoil rapidly.

Mazzafegati: Porkliver sausages from Umbria
Mazzafegati are fresh sausages made with pork liver and other ingredients in Umria. They're a bit unusual, but quite tasty, and can be made wither sweet or not, as you prefer

About Zampone and Cotechino
About Zampone and Cotechino: If you're invited to an Italian household for New Year's Eve, you can expect two things: A bowl of lentils, offered because their shape brings coins to mind, and therefore symbolizes good luck for the coming year, and a slice of Zampone to go with it. Never had a zampone? It's...

Mocetta is one of Valle D'Aosta's traditional cured meats, and in the past the animal used was mountain goat. Now most of the goats are in national parks, and though some are still raised for the purpose, people also use beef. It is in any case a preparation that should only be undertaken after temperatures have dropped in the fall, and will require a cool dry place for both the salting and the aging.

Bresaola, the air-cured beef of the Valtellina, is now available in the US! About it, and serving suggestions.

Sausage from Lucca -- La Salsiccia di Lucca
Sausage from Lucca, or La Salsiccia di Lucca: One of the advantages of having a former butcher as a father-in-law is that he knows where to get first-rate sausages. After all, he wanted to sell only the best. And even though he has retired, his suppliers are still in business. Not all are as lucky, however. This recipe is quite good.

Finocchiona: Tuscan Fennel Salami
Finocchiona is a variation on salami that supposedly owes its origins to a thief at a fair near the town of Prato, who stole a fresh salami and hid it in a stand of wild fennel. When he returned for it, he found it had absorbed the aromas of its hiding place and had become fit for the Gods. There are two varieties of finocchiona, sbriciolona, which is very fresh, and something of an acquired taste, akin to fresh sausage, and finocchiona proper, which is firmer. This is a recipe for the latter.

Prosciutto Toscano
When I was younger, a friend of mine's mom would make prosciutto in the back room of their apartment under the eves in downtown Siena, and I remember how good that room smelled as I watched her scoop a couple of handfuls of salt over the ham one day. I haven't ever tried making it myself for want of space, but have found this recipe, in a fascinating book entitled Etruschi il Mito a Tavola, by Giuseppe Alessi.

Pancetta is a large slice of pork fat back, cured with salt, spices, and herbs. Unlike some other cured cuts of pork, it's easy to make, and this is handy because it's a common flavoring agent in Italian dishes.

Salame Toscano
Salame Toscano: This recipe is drawn from a manuscript dated to 1772.

Larry asked, much to long ago, if I had a recipe for sopressata. Like many other Italian words, sopressata's meaning varies considerably from place to place. In much of the Peninsula it's a raw, pork-based salami that's been squashed slightly during the curing phase and is thus flat; the spicing varies from place to place according to local tradition. In Tuscany, on the other hand...

About making cold cuts, and in particular prosciutto, salame, sausages and pancetta.

Interesting info, a couple of good recipes, and health pointers too. From La Lama Family Secrets.

Italian Cured Meats
An excellent overview of Italian cured meats, beginning with a discussion of Italian salumi (cured meats), followed by recipes and a detailed alphabetical listing of the various kinds, from Baldonazzi (blood sausages from Trentino) though Zampone (Modena's glorious stuffed pig's trotter).

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