About Italian Meats
Even those who have never been to Italy (but certainly plan to go there) know this bright and sunny country, washed by warm seas, as a beautiful land of flourishing olive trees, a treasure-house of priceless works of art, and a gastronomic paradise for the most discerning gourmets. Indeed, Italy should be proud of its legendary cuisine and a large diversity of artisanal specialties, favored all over the world. Although many law-abiding and quite successful attempts have been made to copy original Italian culinary techniques, still there is something about them that simply cannot be imitated. This is a special little part of sincere love which Italy puts in everything it creates for us.
Italians are exceptionally wise gastronomes and cooks. So, although Italy may be mostly associated with its sublime cheeses, true connoisseurs always know that classic Italian deli meats are produced in the best cheesemaking regions. Since the Roman times pork has been the most common meat for Italians, and nowadays pigs of the same ancient breeds are fed with corn and bran, mixed up with fresh cheese whey.
Such diet is one of the keys to the perfect taste profiles of various Italian meats. The other important step is a time-tested curing process. Italian aficionados claim that its basics have not changed since the era of the Roman Empire. However, the local distinctions between them have resulted in such a wide range of original Italian meat delicacies we have today.
The general Italian term for cured meats is salumi (the singular is salume), which is likely to come from the old Latin word for salt. Literally, salumi are salted meats. Southern Italian salumi are usually considered much spicier that their northern counterparts, better known for the rich meaty flavors. Nevertheless, spices are as necessary for both southern and northern specialties as the meat itself. As for the types of meat used for making salumi, pork and beef are more traditional, but lamb, goat, venison or poultry varieties can also be found.
Italian salumi are mainly divided into two large categories. The first category includes the meat delis made from an animal’s boneless part, for example, from a thigh. Actually, exactly this group of meats is considered true salumi. The second category is presented by salami and Italian sausages (or salsiccia). They are made from finely chopped, minced or ground meat, stuffed into edible casings.
Brief List of Meats: from Italy with Love
True Salumi Types
Bresaola. The historic documents trace this beef deli back to the 15th century. It is celebrated for its smooth texture and piquant flavors. Deep red color of the meat makes it more than a mouth-watering treat. It is recommended to spritz Bresaola with some lemon and olive oil to highlight its real taste.
Coppa. This is a type of classic Italian ham, made from the pig’s shoulder or neck parts. It is favored for the tenderness of its texture, marbled look, and fragrant flavors of various herbs and spices.
Mortadella is an often chosen deli for a classic Italian antipasto. This velvety pinkish meat is dotted with small white squares of lard here and there. It also possesses absolutely delightful flavors, especially when some garlic or pistachios are added. Prosciutto. Today there are several different types of Prosciutto meat, though traditionally it is produced in Parma, right where the Parmesan cheese has been made for centuries. That is why
Prosciutto is also called “Parma ham”. The meat from hind legs of the specially bred hogs’ is used to create this famous meat delicacy. It can be served as a part of a meat platter, as well as added to your favorite pizza or pasta. Besides, Prosciutto is considered one of the best Italian sandwich meats, and it is a regular ingredient for the well-known hoagie.
Italian Speck is a cousin of Prosciutto meat. The main difference between them is that speck is usually slightly smoked. This adds a special nuance both to its texture and taste. It can also be distinguished by a fine salt crust and pronounced aroma. Actually, speck can be regarded as medieval Italian bacon.
Nduja (pronounced as an-du-ya) is a type of spreadable aged salami. It is a mixture of meat, lard and liver, generously seasoned with hot red pepper. ‘Nduja is quite a versatile deli, as it can be a wonderful pungent topping for a slice of your favorite bread, as well as a nice piquant element in your pasta sauces.
Salame Piccante is what we are used to call “pepperoni”. Originally this type of salami is spiced with bell pepper, for which the Italian word is peperone. Whatever the name is, it is just splendid for the pizza.
Soppressata is usually a firmer version of ‘Nduja. It is also made from different pig parts, chopped more coarsely than for its softer cousin. Red pepper is also the main seasoning for Soppressata, but the meat tastes much subtler. Its best company is a piece of crunchy bread and a slice of Italian cheese.
Cotechino is a traditional Italian New Year’s treat, bringing good luck throughout all next twelve months. According to the recipe, the sausage is boiled for many hours before lentils and vanilla are added.
The Luganega sausage takes its roots from ancient Roman times. By the way, Cicero, who was a famous Roman philosopher, politician and orator, highly praised this type of salsiccia. It is usually sold rolled, but its average length is about one meter. Its taste is rather mild, featuring the hints of black pepper and fennel. Today Luganega is included in a delectable risotto recipe.
Good news – to try Italian meat you don’t need to go to Italy, you can find it online USA
Here online food stores I recommend:
www.marxfoods.com www.dartagnan.com and my favorite - markys.com