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Sopressata Recipe - How To Make Sopressata

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Coppa Dolce Sopressata
Edsel Little/Flickr
Larry asked, much too 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...

Yield: A sopressata

Ingredients:

  • 6.6 pounds (3 k) of pork meat -- a combination of loin and other lean cuts
  • 1 pound (500 g) lard (a block of fat)
  • 1 pound (500 g) pork side, the cut used to make bacon
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Cloves
  • 1/2 cup grappa (I think you could also use brandy if you want)
  • Casing
  • Vinegar

Preparation:

...Sopressata is a large (up to 1-foot wide and several feet long) cooked sausage made with all the cuttings that don't get used elsewhere -- poor people's food in the past, and now people make sure you like it before they serve it to you, because it is something of an acquired taste. I assume Larry is interested in the former.

An observation on quantities:

Mr. Bergamaschi, who wrote one of the recipes I worked from, doesn't say how much of the spices to use -- he leaves it up to you, and this isn't much help. However, Orlando Manetti, author of another book on pork, says to use a pound of sea salt and 3/4 pound peppercorns for 220 pounds of meat, together with 1/2 pound spices and a pound of garlic and herbs (rosemary, lemon peel, parsley etc). Assuming you are using 8 1/2 pounds meat this is a bit more than 1/2 ounce of salt (by weight). Adjust the remaining ingredients accordingly.

In any case, once you have gotten your spices and herbs together grind them in a mortar. Then clean the meat well, trimming away all traces of gristle, and chop it with the lard and the pork side. Put the meat through a meat grinder and transfer it to a large bowl. Mix the spices into the meat and work the mixture well to distribute the spices evenly, and mix in the grappa too.

Wash the casing well in vinegar, dry it thoroughly, and rub it with a mixture of well ground salt and pepper. Shake away the excess, fill the casing pressing down so as to expel all air, close the casing, and tie the salami with string. Hang for 2-3 days in a warm place, and then for a couple of months in a cool, dry, drafty spot and the sopressata is ready.

Very important note: This sopressata is raw, like most of what you will find in Italy. If you live where trichinosis is a problem, contact your local health people to make sure what you are doing is safe. I do know that people in San Francisco and some other parts of the US are now making raw prosciutto, so it is possible to do this sort of thing.

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