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Italian cooked cured meats

Charcuterie appetizers

Italian cured meats are a cornerstone of Italian gastronomy. In some areas of the peninsula, the attention paid to preparation is a real celebration that blends perfectly with the traditions of the place. After all, our cuisine is something special thanks also to the multitude of products closely linked to the territory of origin. In fact, Italy holds many PGI and DOP brands and among these products cured meats also have a place of honor.

Among the substantial differences, it is necessary to distinguish raw cured meats from cooked cured meats: it is the preparation and the maturing method that define the variables. For a respectable appetizer, you need to bring a platter of cured meats and cheeses to the table, capable of satisfying everyone's tastes and completing the flavor in the best possible way: a perfect mix that accompanies a sweet note to a spicy cheese or perfectly envelops the lightness of the cheese with a significant maturation of the cured meat. In short, creating a sort of agglomeration is the main task of cured meats.

Known cured meats and cuts: cooked ham

Cooked ham is the best known cold cut and suitable for everyone. Prescribed in slimming diets, intended for children for a healthy and genuine snack, ideal for a light evening and to save dinner, perfect to complete the cold cuts platter. In short, cooked ham is the influencer among cured meats! It is obtained from the leg of the pig from which raw ham is also obtained, with the difference that in the "cooked" variant, the cut of meat must be cooked.

Cooked ham: characteristics

Rounded shape, pink colour, delicate and light flavour. The external fat rim allows the flavor to add a sweet note that helps define the aroma. The imagination of Italian master butchers has made it possible to create delicious and unique variations of the most classic cooked ham: roasted and with herbs. The internal flavor remains intact, while the outside is wrapped with other ingredients that help complete or add aromatic notes to the classic flavor.

Cooked ham: production

There are 4 preparation phases for cooked ham :

  • Boning. The first phase consists of removing the bone from the cut of pork, so as to be able to handle them as best as possible during the subsequent phases and to allow the ham to acquire the classic rounded shape.
  • Brine. The ham is put in brine, or rather, a solution of salt, aromas and condiments is injected through special syringes to define and underline the flavour.
  • Churning. It consists of shaping the shape which must respect certain characteristics in order to be cooked at its best and evenly.
  • Cooking. 75° for a period ranging between 9 and 12 hours.

Tasty Italian cured meats: mortadella

Mortadella has become even more famous thanks to some winning and unorthodox ideas from the world of television, but true tasters of the cured meat know that its value is given first of all by the irresistible aroma that triggers the mouth watering. The added value of mortadella is the choice of the raw materials with which it is produced, the fat is in fact top quality and must be carefully selected to make the slice compact and homogeneous. In a sort of realistic painting, the slice of mortadella has perfect joints where the meat accommodates small lardons in the right size.

Mortadella characteristics

Cylindrical shape, pink color with the presence of white cubes. With pistachio or plain, with other flavors or plain. The sublime flavor of mortadella goes perfectly with a warm crouton of bread, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a slice of freshly sliced ​​mortadella. A full aroma and a satisfying taste.

Mortadella: production

Mortadella from Bologna and that from Prato are among the typical PGI cured meats, where tradition imposes a specific protocol for production and according to European specifications. There are 6 preparation phases:

  • Careful and precise selection of the cut of meat to use.
  • Grinding and emulsification. The piece of meat is processed following the technique and a method called "extermination" to reduce it to a pulp, so as to proceed with the subsequent phases.
  • Preparation of lard. The preparation of the fat begins, usually the throat product is preferred as it is harder and tastier.
  • Bagging. The last preparation phase consists in mixing the mixture and preparing it in the appropriate cooking molds which vary in size according to needs.
  • Cooking. Mortadella requires particular cooking: dry air stoves and variable cooking times ranging from one hour to an entire day.
  • Cooling and stabilization. At the end, the freshly cooked mortadella is subjected to a sort of cold shower which allows the fat to remain compact and the product to create a homogeneous and full shape.

DOP and IGP cured meats: cotechino

Various Italian regions offer cotechino with a traditional preparation derived from peasant culture. Cotechino - a product similar to salami - is a truly excellent product and too often relegated to the background. Perhaps because it does not impose itself on the scene given its small size, perhaps because it is considered something "too" simple, however it hides a unique, inimitable flavor and if treated according to tradition, truly excellent.

Cotechino: characteristics

Intense red colour, significant fat present with a variable percentage depending on the type of product desired. Intense flavour, sometimes aromatic, sometimes excessively spicy, it offers a unique and inimitable flavour, even more so when accompanied by a full-bodied red wine.

Cotechino: preparation and curiosity

The method of preparing cotechino is similar to what tradition dictates for zampone, with the difference that for cotechino the casing is used for sausages. The pork used, as well as the fat, are first choice. In fact, it is only with selected meats that top quality products are obtained. There are different types of cotechino on the market, in the pre-cooked version, they require little time to be brought to the table. Cotechino becomes an essential dish especially during the Christmas holidays when, accompanied by a good dose of lentils, it seems to predict a lucky new year. In short, there is always a valid excuse to savor delicious and genuine dishes!

Alternative cured meats: zampone

The history of the zampone is rather bizarre: it seems that the origin dates back to around 1511 when the inhabitants, following a battle launched by Pope Julius II, chose to slaughter the pigs to avoid giving energy to the enemy who was now close to defeat. 'invasion. The local master butchers slaughtered the pigs and, to best preserve the meat, chose to mince everything and put them in casings made from the animals' legs. In this way the meat could be preserved properly and could also undergo the cooking phase at a later time. Today production complies with European directives and zampone is included among the Italian DOP and IGP cured meats.

The zampone: characteristics

From a nutritional point of view, zampone offers an almost perfect balance. Rich in nutrients, fat at the right point, tasty without equal. Its use is closely linked to moments of celebration as the allure of tradition reigns supreme, however cooking zampone at other times of the year turns out to be a good idea that offers a complete dish.

The zampone production

Zampone is produced using: lean pork, connective tissues, salt, pepper, fat and natural flavourings. The phase following the mixing is the preparation of the sausage: a casing obtained from the duly treated front legs of the animals. Pre-cooked zampone is usually purchased on the market which reduces preparation times. Good, sometimes very good, it is usually accompanied by zampone with lentils or yellow polenta, in perfect winter and Christmas mood!

Cured meats beyond borders

In addition to the classic proposals, you can add another product to the cold cuts platter that tickles the taste buds and completes the table: the Würstel. The Northern European origin finds different preparation methods, the most curious is the Icelandic one which chooses to propose a dish with boiled frankfurters in addition to crunchy onions and mustard. Italians turn up their noses, which is why you can take inspiration from Northern European recipes and choose to add imagination without distorting the dish.

The cutting board is full of different solutions, each of which has its own peculiarities and fills the laid table with scents and colours. The Carne Genuina e-commerce contains multiple variations of DOP and IGP cured meats which, thanks to the characteristics of the individual product, allow you to savor local delicacies and specialties without leaving home, one click and away you go.