A Primer on Italian Cured Meats
Salumi in Italy is a delicious experience. A beautiful board of cured meats, a good wine, some crusty bread and perhaps some condiment are all that is needed for a wonderful meal.
Cured meats in Italy include a variety of options, including:
- Prosciutto di Parma. Prosciutto di Parma is made from the back leg of the pig and is uncooked.
- Speck. Speck is made from the rear leg of a pig and is quite fatty. In appearance, it is similar to bacon, but it is a smoked product that is usually not cooked. Instead, it is sliced thin and served with bread. The texture is softer and chewier than many of the other traditional cured meats.
- Pepperoni. Popular in the United States, artisanal pepperoni is based on finocchiona, the fennel-infused salami of Tuscany. Although it is often crafted from pork and made fatty, pepperoni is sometimes made from other meats as well.
- Soppressata. Soppressata has a texture similar to sausage. It is made from pressed pork and can include a variety of cuts, some more desirable than others. The pork is then combined with a variety of spices and herbs that vary by region, and it is an excellent choice for sandwiches or for a meat board.
- Coppa. Also known as Capicola, this meat is made from the neck or shoulder of a pig and is usually combined with herbs, spices and wine. Coppa is dry-cured, often smoked, and its flavor is strong enough to be eaten on its own with no condiment. It is delicious with just some crusty bread, but it is ideal in sandwiches as well.
- Cacciatore. Historically, this cured meat is associated with hunters, who apparently carried this small salami to eat during hunts. Cured with wine, herbs and spices, Cacciatore is usually thin and only up to seven inches in length. It is dry and tough, and its small size means it is not the best choice for sandwiches. It works beautifully on cured meat boards, however, and pairs well with wine and cheese.
- Salami. This pork meat is often cured with pepper, garlic, wine and other simple ingredients. It works well with condiments, wines and breads.
- Bresaola. While many Italian cured meats are made from pork, this option is made from beef, giving it a deep red color. This cured meat is air-dried, salted and aged. This, combined with the lean meat, gives it a dry texture. Bresaola can be served as part of an antipasto.
You may find some of these same familiar flavors in some pasta dishes and even on some innovative pizzas, so getting familiar with the meats of Italy allows you to enjoy more than a cured meat board at lunch.
If you are interested in trying artisanal cuisine in an upscale atmosphere, reserve a table or private dining room at Bricco today. Our culinary team and authentic Italian menu make us one of the most coveted reservations in Harrisburg.