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More Cold Cuts

Also, What You'll Need, and Italian Recipes

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  • Soppressata:
    In Tuscany this is a sausage made primarily from leftover pork cuttings -- cartilage, snippets of meat, and so on, which are stuffed into the skin of the animal and cooked. Therefore, in appearance it somewhat resembles a porchetta, the roast pork done whole over a spit. However, the taste is quite different and rather particular; people generally make sure their guests like it before offering it.
Trichinosis, you wonder? It's virtually unknown in Italy. The salt and the aging process, I've been told, takes care of the parasites. In terms of times, you should age your meats, except for sausage, for at least 40 days, and with many, for example prosciutto, the seasoning times will be much longer. People commonly age their prosciutto for up to a year, either hanging them up in a cool well ventilated place or under hardwood ash.

WHAT WILL YOU NEED TO MAKE COLD CUTS AT HOME?
  1. The meat, which should be top quality lean pork, if possible from an animal that was raised organically.
  2. Pork fat. Again, top quality and quite fresh.
  3. Garlic.
  4. Salt. I'd go with sea salt. In Italy it's called Sale Marino, and is sold in coarse and fine grinds. Non-marine salt will work so long as it's pure salt, without additives. The fine grind will likely be better in fillings; when you're salting a cut from the outside either will work though I might go with fine.
  5. How much salt? Norcini (experts in curing pork) I have talked to say to use 2.5-2.8% by weight when making salami or other cold cuts that should go into casings. So if you have 100 pounds of of salami mix, you will need 2.5 pounds salt. For sausages that will be boiled, for example cotechino, they increase the salt to about 3%, again by weight. Without boiling 3% would make the meat too salty, they say, while with less than 2% the meat can spoil.
  6. Spices, which can include whole peppercorns, nutmeg, fennel seeds, cinnamon, and cloves, depending upon the recipes.
  7. A meat grinder. The crank operated kind will work fine, though you will want a motorized grinder if you're working with larger volumes.
  8. Sausage casings. According to Cassandra Vivian, casings are sold packed in salt, and an open package will keep for a year or more so long as they're covered in salt. To use them, she says to rinse them well and soak them for 5 minutes.

    A word on the stuffing process: pack the stuffing down firmly. While you don't want to overpack and split a casing, you don't want any air spaces to remain either, because if an air pocket remains it will be a site for spoilage.
  9. A pricker (what is called a pettinino in Tuscany -- a disk with many slender nails sticking up from it, used to puncture the casing after it's stuffed.


RECIPES AND ADVICE:

Salame Toscano
Delicately aromatic, seasoned with garlic, salt, and a little spice.

Pancetta
An indispensable flavoring agent in a great many dishes.

Prosciutto Toscano
Tuscan cured ham is one of life's true delights.

Finocchiona
Similar to salami, but delightfully flavored with fennel.

La Salsiccia di Lucca
Classic Tuscan sausages.

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


Italian Cold Cuts: The Beginning

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