SALUMI – Italian Cured Meats: A Guide
The preparation and serving of salumi (cured meats) is a staple in Italian cuisine. Born out of necessity, the tradition of salting, smoking and air drying has been alive in Italy for over two thousand years. It began as a practical way to preserve meat to be consumed at a later date. Today, the tradition of curing meat continues… because it’s delicious.
First, let’s do an overview of the two categories of Italian salumi. Prosciutto, Pancetta, Coppa and others are taken from whole cuts of meat such as a boneless thigh or shoulder, while salami and sausages are formed from meat that has been ground or minced and then stuffed into casings. Then to take it a step further, within these two distinct categories, there are variations in size, shape, flavor, texture, color, and production methods.
Let’s explore some of our favorites that you can enjoy here at Alpine. Capitola, Salami, Ham, Prosciutto, Pepperoni and Sausage are among the most popular types of cured meat or salumi, but represent only a fraction of preparations.
Salumi , Salami, Salame: Sorting out the Names
Salami is not what you or we, as Americans, think. The word “salami” is an Italian word, the plural form of salame, and not the “one” type of meat commonly referred to in America.
Now let’s run though some common preparations and highlight the differences.
Salami – Many variations make up Salami. It is commonly flavored with garlic, peppercorns, paprika, fennel and wine. Types include Finocchiona, Pepperoni, Fegatelli, Felino, Genoese, and Milanese. Each is unique and very flavorful.
Prosciutto – is the Italian word for “ham,” although once again, most people outside of Italy associate this word with a specific type of cure for ham. Proscuitto is made by salting the ham and then air drying for up to two years. After curing, it’s sliced into paper thin, slightly transparent pieces. Typically it is eaten uncooked, wrapped around fruit and vegetables, or in salads. In some cases, prosciutto may be lightly cooked, as is the case when it is tossed with pasta.
Capicola – is a type of cured Italian meat that is frequently used like a lunchmeat on sandwiches or in dishes such as pasta and antipasto. It is distinct from cured ham because, while curing, it is coated in either black pepper or hot red pepper powder making it either hot or sweet.
Panncetta – This salt-cured pork belly is seasoned with nutmeg, pepper, fennel, dried ground hot peppers, and garlic. It is served thinly sliced or chopped after a three month drying process.
Rotola – Mozzarella, prosciutto, fresh basil, sun-dried tomato and hot salami are spun into a small wheel to create this uniquely Italian delicacy.
Come in to Alpine Bakery & Trattoria where the Italian Salumi offerings are alive and well. Try one of our incredible sandwiches, antipasti or on your pizza. We used a wide variety of salumi in all sorts of delicious and traditional ways.