Here we look at the leg and some salamis. What do the Italians do with it? We are working with the art of Salumi (singular salume), a term used to refer to Italian cold cuts, predominantly pork. Salumi includes bresaola, which is made from beef and also cooked products such as mortadella and prosciutto cotto. Salami is a specific type of salumi. The word salumi comes from the Italian word salume, pl. salumi “salted meat”, derived from Latin sal “salt”. (OED)
I use mainly three great sites on the web that deals with these.
1. Culatello – The King of Cured Meats
“If there is a King of salumi, it’s definitely Culatello di Zibello. Many might think that honor belongs to Prosciutto di Parma, with it’s 5 pointed crown branded onto it’s skin, but in reality, those in the know, understand that Culatello is the true King.” (cured meats)
“Mentions of this delicacy date back to the 15th century. Culatello is produced in the flatlands located north of Parma, near the Po River. The city of Zibello is the epicenter of production, due to its particular climate that is ideal for aging the meat. The thick fog that rolls off the Po and the biting cold of the winter give culatello its characteristic sweetness and fragrance.” (academiabarilla.com)
“Culatello is made from the large muscle mass in the rear leg of the pig. Creating it means destroying the possibility of making prosciutto. That, combined with it being a relatively small part of the whole leg, its tremendous aging time, the fact that it’s the best part of the leg, and the expertise required to make it, make it one of the most expensive salumi in Italy, particularly if it adheres to the DOP regulations to be a Zibello culatello.” (cured meats)
“The flavor of culatello is indescribably delicious, but I’ll try. It has a soft, supple texture similar to prosciutto, but a tiny bit dryer. The flavor is robust, and redolent of the 500-year-old, humid, caves where they spend their 12 months drying. The pork flavor is the main thing you can taste (which is delicious because to adhere to the DOP certain criteria for raising the pigs have to be adhered to, and they must be pigs from either Lombardia or Emilia-Romagna), followed by the funk of the aging and the caves It’s really something special. There is obviously no way I can recreate the flavor from the 500-year-old caves and the native molds, but I’m hoping I can create something similar and delicious.” (cured meats)
“You can see the cure is exceedingly simple. Nothing to interfere with the pork flavor and the flavor of the 500-year-old caves, which I was unable to import from Italy. This would be a good candidate for using a high quality pastured pig. I’m sure I’ll do it again with one, but for this trial, I was trying to learn how to make the cut and the complex tying.” (cured meats)
Preparation for slicing: “The meat should be softened in very dry white wine for a couple of days. Then the skin should be removed and any fat trimmed off. The culatello is then ready to be thinly sliced by hand.” (academiabarilla.com)
For a detailed process description, visit Culatello – The King of Cured Meats
I have to say no more. Pour a glass of good wine; sit back, close your eyes and just listen. The magic of this process will wash over your soul and you will never be the same again! Ask yourself what do you want to sell? What do you want to make? Something so completely unique that it defies all comprehension? Do you want to make music like Mozart? Yes!
“The Fiocco is made from the small muscle of the hog leg. It’s cured in the exact same way as the Culatello is, but because it’s quite a bit smaller it takes a lot less to dry. This piece was in the curing chamber for 4 months and lost about 40-42% of it’s weight.” (cured meats)
Ham – General
R Bosman – from private communication
OED sv. salumeria, n.
Featured Image: by Dewald Smit.