Category Archives: heritage meats

You say salami, I say salumi

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.

Salumi

Traditional salumi, starting with the white piece, clockwise: lardo, salame, capocollo, prosciutto and rigatino (also called pancetta). Photo by Vivian Farmer 

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.

salumi chart

Hand drawn map of salumi meat sources at Spannocchia. Photo by Vivan Farmer

 

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Hog wild

By Vivian Farmer

 

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Three month old piglet born after a wild boar broke into the enclosures for heritage breed Cinta Senese sows at Spannocchia. A straight tail and upright ears distinguishes the piglet from the pure Cinta Senese, though it has a white “belt” around its shoulders, characteristic of the Cinta Senese breed. Photo by Nadav Soroker 

CHIUSDINO, Italy–Wild boar meat, in stews and pasta dishes in Tuscany, has been used as a component of the region’s hearty cooking for centuries. However, this meat source is destroying land and disrupting the ecosystem. Intermixing of boars and local pigs add to the problem and now the scrappy creatures have taken over the area around the Spannocchia farm.

Randall Stratton, a trustee of the Spannocchia Foundation and co-owner/general manager of the Spannocchia farm has watched as the boar population has grown over the past 20 years. Today, boar aren’t afraid to come right onto the property of Spannocchia.

“At 2:30 in the morning, I looked out my window and 15 feet from me was a boar rooting up my lawn,” Stratton said.

But boars destroy the agriculture of the area as well. Boars are strong and will push under or through fences. The farm has been unable to grow cereal crops for two years now because of the invasive boar species, Stratton said.

In the 1920s and 30s different strains of boar were introduced into Italy, Stratton said, because they were bigger and repopulated more quickly than the indigenous species. These new boar interbred with domestic pigs, the offspring of which were able to produce twice the amount of piglets twice as often, Stratton said. This explosive growth hasn’t been restrained by natural predators.

“Wolves and men were the natural predators,” Stratton said. Wolves prefer to hunt docile sheep, a common animal raised in the area, rather than wild boar. That leaves men, but because of local politics, and because the farm is on a nature preserve, no one is allowed to hunt in the area.

“To not have any hunting at all is unnatural,” Stratton said.

Besides eating the cereal crops, the boar have worked into the fruit orchard, eaten the fruit, broken the branches off of the trees and have rooted around the swimming pool looking for worms and bugs.

For now there is no solution to the boar problem and Spannocchia continues to protect its gardens with strong fences.

 

 

 

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Do the lampredotto

By Claire Lardizabal
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FLORENCE, Italy—I took a deep breath and looked at the hot sandwich in my hands. Between a golden brown panino bun, smothered in parsley sauce, were the cooked innards of a cow stomach. I was about to take a bite of Tuscan street food, lampredotto.

Beatrice Trambusti asked me if I wanted it spicy. Beatrice, along with her mother and brother, opened the Lupen E Margo food stall 30 years ago near Mercato Centrale. I said yes, but only a little, as she added a teaspoon of green chili sauce. Beatrice handed me my lampredotto in a convenient plastic wrap with extra napkins.

Eating lampredotto standing up requires a certain grace. The local Tuscans stared at me as I tried to take a bite, then another, as chunky pieces fell to the ground for the pigeons to devour. I had to sit down to enjoy it.

At first glance, lampredotto resembles a pulled pork sandwich. The stewed tripe sandwich is made of the aburnasum, the fourth cow stomach. The lampredotto was once served as a peasant food, and was named after the lamprey eel that used to run rampant in the Arno River. The white, fatty parts are actually the outside lining of the stomach while the meat is the inside of the stomach.

The lampredotto was juicy and tasted like a cross between boiled chicken and pulled pork. The panino bread was soft and chewy, and soaked up the juice of the meat.

Lampredotto reminded me of something you would stumble upon after a night after the bars. The sandwich was tasty and filling, and something I would definitely eat again.

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Plated–the making of proscuitto

By: Faith Vickery
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PARMA, Italy— Driving through the rolling Tuscan hills, our bus stopped at a wonderful family run meat company, Salumificio La Perla, run by Carlo Lafnranchi and his brother Fabrizio. If you’re ever looking for a meal that comes with an experience, this is the place.

First, lunch: thin slices of prosciutto, Parmigiano Reggiano, balsamic vinegar and, shockingly, cantaloupe. The sweet cantaloupe cut the salty ham in the best way, and the balsamic on the Parmigiano was an impressive pairing. After our delicious meal we went below the restaurant to learn about the production of the prosciutto we’d just eaten.

On the production floor we inhaled the obvious scent of meat, yet there was none in sight. We found that the prosciutto, a cured ham made from the hind leg of a pig, was in the surrounding freezers. When La Perla receives the legs, they are stored at approximately 32°F for five days. Then the legs are massaged and moved to another freezer two degrees cooler. Here, due to the cooling, the visible meat becomes darker in color. After fifteen days the ham is massaged again and moved to the drying room.
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The meat takes two years to cure and is checked by an inspector to ensure that the ham meets the Italian DOP (protected designation of origin) regulation. The inspector takes a long hollow horse bone and sticks it in five different points around the center bone of the leg to extract the interior of the ham. As if it wasn’t weird enough to use a horse bone to stick in a pig leg, after each poke the inspector as well as the owner actually smells the bone to determine the quality of the meat. Upon passing this peculiar inspection the ham receives an oval crown with the word PARMA stamped on it. This marking is a guarantee that the ham is from the region of Parma and nowhere else.

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