By Vivian Farmer
CHIUSDINO, Italy– Salumi is the Italian term for any cured meat and boy-oh-boy does Italy have a lot. Drying meat is a way to preserve it for long periods of time and today the curing method is still used for the delicious unique flavors it draws out in meat.
Salame–Perhaps the most well known salumi, salame is composed of different portions of pig meat mixed together. The salame made at Spannocchia is soaked in red wine to kill any bacteria and is then cured in a casing made of a pig’s small intestine. The longer the meat is aged the darker its characteristic red color will be. Garlic and black peppercorns are added to the meat to give it a rich flavor. Salame is good as a snack on bread with cheese or enjoyed all by itself.
Prosciutto–Prosciutto is usually the most expensive type of salumi due to its long curing time. Prosciutto is the back leg of pig that has aged for at least four years. To begin, each leg is packed in salt for two weeks, massaged, and then hung to age in a refrigerated area. Prosciutto is sliced thinly and can taste salty, herbal, or slightly sweet. It is often served wrapped around melon slices or as a snack on its own.
Lardo–This salumi comes from the top layer of fat on the back of a pig. Spannocchia’s version is washed in vinegar, salted, and then cured for three months. Lardo feels slick in the mouth and leaves a buttery coating on the lips. Spannocchia adds rosemary to the thinly sliced fat to give it a distinct flavor. Lardo is often served with bread or as a pizza topping.
Rigatino–Also called pancetta, this dried meat is created from the belly of a pig. Spannocchia adds black pepper to its rigatino and ages it for about three months. Rigatino tastes fatty and rich with a deep meaty flavor at the same time. This meat is eaten as a snack or put into sauces for flavoring.
Capacollo–The meat used for this salumi comes from the nape of the pig’s neck. If used fresh, this meat is almost too tough to eat. However, in keeping with tradition in which no part of the animal is wasted, salumi makers cure it to soften and make it tender. Spannocchia adds black pepper and fennel to their capacollo and ages it for three to five months. Capacollo is eaten on sandwiches, bread, or alone.