Necessity is the mother of invention. So the tradition of smoking, salting and air-drying meat was born from the necessity of conserving these foods for a long period of time. Keep this in mind next time you sink your teeth into a salami or pepperoni sandwich, it will give you an even greater respect and appreciation for Italian meats.
There is no doubt a percentage of the American population who are not very familiar with Italian specialty meats. And while they might enjoy pepperoni or salami, they have never even heard of prosciutto and capocollo. We can help. Here is a quick and handy guide to Italian meats.
Genoa salami is perhaps the most popular type of salami in the states. Salami is a type of cured sausage made from beef, pork or veal that has been flavored with various spices and herbs. Raw sausage goes through a state of drying, salting and, in some cases, smoking and fermentation to become a hard sausage. And although you probably enjoy this meat mostly on crackers or cheese, it can be used in sandwiches, canapes and pasta dishes.
Pepperoni, our favorite pizza topping, is a spicy, cured sausage made from beef or pork or a mixture of both with added seasonings. Most people think the reddish color of pepperoni comes from cayenne pepper, but it’s actually paprika that is responsible for the color and heat.
While pepperoni remains extremely popular as a pizza topping, it can also be used in sandwiches as an hors d'oeuvre.
Prosciutto is the Italian word for ham, but in the United States, the word prosciutto is used to describe thinly sliced, uncooked, dry-cured ham. Prosciutto is a fatty cut of meat with a buttery texture that will melt in your mouth. Made from the hind leg or thigh of a pig, prosciutto has a mild and sweet flavor.
Often used as an appetizer, prosciutto tastes quite excellent on its own or wrapped around mozzarella cheese or an asparagus spear. It can also be paired with vegetables and lightly cooked. Of course, you can also use it as a pizza topping as well.
Chorizo is a sausage made from pork, paprika, pepper and garlic, it has a firm texture and strong flavor. And while it might be known as a breakfast sausage, it is excellent in soups and casseroles.