Italy has more sa­lumi than you can shake a grissino at. Syd­ney’s guru of cured meats has the low-down on the essen­tials.

Gourmet Traveller (Australia) - - OCT -

Italy has more sa­lumi than you can shake a grissino at. Syd­ney’s guru of cured meats has the low-down.

Pino To­mini Foresti opened Dolce Vita Fine Foods with his wife, Pia, in Syd­ney’s Kog­a­rah in 1978, after mi­grat­ing from Cal­abria in 1972. Al­most 40 years later, the seventh-gen­er­a­tion butcher knows his cu­latello from his capoc­ollo (not to men­tion every cure and cut in be­tween). But do you? To­mini Foresti has the low-down on 10 of Italy’s most es­sen­tial cured meats. Pino’s Dolce Vita Fine Foods, unit 1, 423 The Boule­varde, Kir­rawee, NSW, (02) 9587 4818, pinos­dol­cevita.com.au


“With­out a doubt, the most pop­u­lar salume made from beef. The tex­ture and grain of girello, or sil­ver­side, is per­fect for bresaola, which is salted and rubbed with spices be­fore it’s hung for at least four months. Dur­ing this time, and with the for­ma­tion of nat­u­ral mould, the beef de­vel­ops a deep flavour, with rich, earthy notes and a slight sweet­ness. The out­side is very dark and it’s not un­til it’s cut that a bright red colour is re­vealed. I love to have bresaola thinly sliced with a driz­zle of olive oil and some Parmigiano-Reg­giano.”


“Made from pig legs, prosci­utto is ham dry-cured on the bone for three months. The legs are then boned and the meat pressed into a heart shape. They’re rubbed with salt, lard and pep­per, then hung for 18 to 24 months (or 36 for a spe­cial re­serve cure). A great prosci­utto should be sup­ple, sweet and pink-red in colour. The most fa­mous ex­am­ples are from Parma and San Daniele.”


“This spicy salami paste orig­i­nated in Spilinga in Cal­abria. I grew up spread­ing it on bread, and I’ve tried it al­most every way you can think of, ex­cept in my cof­fee. We make it by minc­ing pork meat and fat into a paste with salt, pep­per and dried chilli. That goes into nat­u­ral cas­ings that are hung for up to six months. Chefs are get­ting very cre­ative with ’nduja. Some use it in risotto, while Piz­za­perta in Syd­ney use it on a Cal­abrese pizza.”


“Mak­ing guanciale, cured pork cheek, is quite sim­ple, but the cheeks should be whole, large and thick to get the best re­sult. They’re coated with salt, and black and white pep­per, and left for 10 days, be­fore be­ing hung for at least two to three months. The white rib­bons of fat and strips of meat, to­gether with the pep­pery coat­ing, cre­ate an amaz­ing scent. If you love guanciale you eat it by the slice, but it’s renowned for its use in car­bonara.”


“Capoc­ollo, also known as coppa, is made with trimmed and boned pig’s neck. Th­ese are then cov­ered with sea salt, pep­per, and the likes of cloves and nut­meg and left for about 10 days. Our capoc­ollo is hung to dry and cure for a min­i­mum of four months: that gives it enough time to de­velop per­fume – a lit­tle bit musky, a lit­tle bit spicy – and a beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral mar­bling, which makes for a creamy tex­ture on the tongue.”


“Lardo is cured pork back-fat. Don’t let that scare you, though – you’ll fall in love with its creamy tex­ture and but­tery taste. Trimmed and squared off, the fat is rubbed with salt and aro­matic herbs and spices, such as rose­mary, then left to in­fuse (we leave ours for six months). Place thin slices on toasted bread and watch it melt like but­ter.”


“Un­for­tu­nately mor­tadella’s rep­u­ta­tion has been un­der­mined by large pro­ces­sors, but the good stuff is made sim­ply us­ing qual­ity pork. The meat is ground into a paste and thick hand­diced pieces of pork fat are added, along with salt, pep­per and spices. This is then put into cas­ings, tied off, and baked at a low tem­per­a­ture. Best sliced pa­per thin and eaten with pro­volone and bread.”


“Var­i­ous cuts of pork meat, rind and fat make up this larger-style sausage, com­monly made and eaten dur­ing the cold months. We like pork rind in our mix, too – it gives the cotechino a lovely coarse tex­ture and stick­i­ness. The mix is put in cas­ings and left in the fridge for a cou­ple of days to set. To serve, it’s al­ways boiled slowly and of­ten served with lentils. We used to have cotechino with lentils on New Year’s Day – my mum said it’d bring us luck for the whole year ahead.”


“You can find pancetta – or Ital­ianstyle ba­con – rolled or as pancetta stessa, which is the tra­di­tional f lat pancetta. To make it, pork belly is salted, rubbed with herbs, then hung to cure for a min­i­mum of two to three months. Un­like most ba­con it’s not smoked, so is much milder. It can be en­joyed sliced on its own, diced and fried in pasta, or, my favourite way, with a ton of bread and end­less stracchino cheese.”


“Cu­latello, also known as the king of prosci­utto, is made from the best sec­tion of a boned pig’s leg – the rump. The care and slow-cur­ing gives this cold cut its com­bi­na­tion of sweet­ness and salt. We hang ours for a min­i­mum of 24 to 36 months, and move it be­tween con­trolled tem­per­a­tures and hu­mid­ity to repli­cate the town of Zi­bello, in Parma, where cu­latello orig­i­nated.”

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