Soppressata is a type of Italian salami that has a long history and is popular throughout Italy and beyond. It is a cured meat made from pork that is seasoned with garlic, salt, and other spices, then stuffed into natural casings and aged for several months. The result is a rich, flavorful sausage that is often enjoyed as an appetizer or snack, sliced thinly and served with cheese and crackers.
There are several regional variations of soppressata, each with their own unique flavor profile and texture. Some are spicier than others, while others are milder and sweeter. In general, soppressata is known for its distinctive aroma and complex flavor, which comes from the combination of spices and the lengthy aging process.
Among the many popular foods in Italy, there are cured meats such as Soppressata that is present in various Italian regions and have some unique characteristics that make is special.
Today i am going to talk about Soppressata and how to enjoy in the best way possible.
What is Soppressata
Soppressata is dry -cured pork salami.Like most salami, it can have a variety of ingredients depending on its origin. The curing process is the same as with other salami. After the meat is ground and seasoned, it is packed into casings, tied by hands, and hang to dry for 45-60 days.
Soppressata is typically made from coarsely ground lean pork cuts such as the loin, shoulder, or ham scraps. However, some regions will opt to use fattier meat and less desirable cuts like the head and tongue.
The seasonings include cinnamon, rosemary, peppercorn, salt, and chile peppers. However, different regions will use spices and local herbs to get a more spicy and sweet flavor. The best known soppressata salami comes from the Southern region of Italy like,Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, Abruzzi, and Calabria. They take their Soppressata so seriously that, it is stamped with the Protected Designation of Origin status to protect the meat coming from this area with name protection when adhering to specific production regulations.
Producers in Italy use wood pressers with a hand crank system that flattens the salami over some times. The shape though does not change the flavor. The whole process takes place in specially monitored rooms where humidity and temperature are carefully controlled to get the very best.
Soppressata Origin and Curiosities
There are various variations of soppressata across Italy but the most popular ones include;
- A cured dry salami made in Calabria, Basilicata, and Apulia.
- An uncured salami made in Liguria and Tuscany which goes by the name soppresse.
The recipe for soppressata dates back to the former times of the Italian peninsula where Roman peasants would use some of the best parts from the pigs that were being sacrificed to come up with a type of sausage that was of high quality even in those times.
The origin of the name soppressata is believed to have two versions.
- Some people believe that it came from the Italian word ‘sopressare’, which is a verb and means to press.
- Others still believe that it is a combination of two words from the calabrese dialect ‘susu’ which means above’, and ‘mpizzare’ which means ‘to hang’.Both of these mean the curing process that the salami goes through. However, the jury is still out in the exact roots.
Soppressata Vs Salami
The word Salami is derived from the Latin term “salamen” which refers to the salting operations of pork. It is, therefore, a very old tradition that is still practiced in many parts of Italy.
When it comes to Soppressata, it is a particular type of salami produced in certain Italian regions such as Basilicata, Abruzzo, Molise, Puglia, Calabria, and Campania.
As is well known, the shape as in the case of processed meat is decisive on the final product and the substance. Thus saying, salami takes a more cylindrical shape while the soppressata has a more flattened and peculiar shape which is easy to recognize and distinguish at least to a more careful eye.
The casing for salami is normally narrow and whitish, whereas the casing for a soppressata must be wide and oblong which is made by pressing between wooden planks and stones on the top. Soppressata is much drier than salami The curing for the salami lasts from one to five months, while that for soppressata takes about 45 days.
The percentage of fat is higher in salami and minimal in the soppressata. Soppressata is mixed with only lean cuts of pork (peg, shoulder, ham, or filler trimmings) and strictly cut with the tip of a knife unlike in salami where you can use a grinder.
Soppressata is most produced in Calabria, Tuscany, and Vicenza in Italy. Despite being produced in other areas, like Basilicata, Abruzzi, Molise, and Puglia. It is only the Calabrian one that has the PDO mark of quality.
The production and uniformity of the Soppressata Calabrese PDO remain a distinctive and recognized mark of the culinary tradition of a specific area of Italy; Calabria. Do not confuse this specific product with its almost homonym, the soppressa, which is mainly processed in Tuscany, but made with fatter meat than that used for the Italian Soppressata of Calabria.
Other versions of soppressata like the Vicentine are also different, where even though they use lean meat, the uses of spices like cinnamon, rosemary, black pepper in grain, and other spices are abundant.
This Soppressata got its name from the region of Calabria, which is known for its super hot and flavorful chili peppers. Unlike other Soppressata from other regions, this Soppressata is made using 100% Berkshire pork meat. The meat is coarsely ground, fermented, and then dry-cured in a natural casing. It is aged for 3 months and boasts of a heat that comes from the hot Spanish paprika and cayenne pepper used as part of its seasoning.
There is also a subtle hint of licorice that comes through from the anise seeds, creating an inherent combination of flavors that complement each other very well. The Berkshire pork meat used to produce Soppressata Piccante normally comes from pigs that have never been fed growth hormones or antibiotics. The pigs are raised in low-stress environments and spend most of their lives loaning freely outside.
This Soppressata Piccante has a coarse grind natural casing for minimal acidity. It goes well with a bottle of Gaglioppo wine ànd some crusty bread, sliced thin or thick where either way the flavor of Calabrian chilies will always satisfy your taste buds.
The ingredients for this Soppressata include but are not limited to; red wine, grappa, fennel, and Piccante spices. What differentiates this Soppressata from the rest is that it has an addition of a special Calabrian pepper blend that results in a sweet salami with a slow-building, well-balanced heat, not too hot. Soppressata Piccante is normally found in the south of Italy.
The word Soppressata in Italy means “pressed down.” Different regions use different recipes to prepare this dry-cured salami. Thus saying, this is the most commonly used recipe when preparing soppressata at home.
- 6 1\2 pounds pork loin other lean pork cuts.
- 1 pound lard
- 1pound lean bacon
- Black peppercorns, to taste
- Whole cloves, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2tbsp vinegar
- 1/2 cup grappa brandy
- Sausage casings(sizes of your liking)
- 6 tbs kosher salt, divided
- 1/4 cup distilled water
- Natural strings
- Gather all the ingredients required
- Grind the cloves and peppercorns together with a spice grinder or use a mortar and pestle.
- Clean the pork meat very well, trimming the gristle and tendons. Chop up the pork meat, lard, and pork side using the tip of the knife.
- Put the chopped-up meat in a big bowl and add the ground peppercorns, cloves, and 4 tbsp of salt to the ground meat and mix well to ensure even distribution.
- Add the grappa brandy and mix well.
- Wash and rinse the sausage casing well in vinegar and distilled water.
- Combine the remaining salt and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl.
- Dry the casings thoroughly and rub with the salt and pepper mixture making sure to rub off the excess.
- Use a sausage stuffer to fill the casings, pressing down to expel air. Twist the ends of the casings to shut it and tie the salami with a string.
- Hang your salami for 3 days in a warm place and then for 2 months in a cool, dry daffy spot, with a temperature of about 60° F and a humidity level of about 65-70%.
- The Soppressata is ready to eat when it has lost 30% of its weight. Cut into thin slices and arrànge them in a charcuterie board or your preferred serving plate with a complimentary cheese of your choice.
You can also serve Soppressata with fresh or cooked vegetables to make it a complete meal. Some people also use it as a pizza topping.
Curing meat requires specific experience and failure to cure meat properly can cause sickness or even fatal results. So it is advisable to consult an expert to teach you proper techniques and applications if you don’t have any experience in this area.
Bad molds can develop. As soon as you see them developing, wipe them off with a cloth soaked in distilled water and vinegar solution. If these molds are left to grow too much, they may move inside the casings and contaminate the meat. So it is always good to keep an eye on your Soppressata as they cure.
To avoid the risk of the case breaking, it is punctured in several parts with a sterile needle. This also helps release extra water.
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