Salumi

  • 01 of 40

    La Cinta Senese

    Cinta Senese: Siena's classic heirloom pig
    The Tuscan Heirloom Pig Cinta Senese: Siena's classic heirloom pig. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Italian Cold Cuts

    Salumi is the Italian word for cold cuts, which include salame (salami in English), prosciutto, pancetta, cured lard, sausages, mortadella, and all sorts of other treats. A picture gallery to help you figure out what's in an Italian deli case, or what's on your plate when you come to visit.

    Most cold cuts start from a pig, and though there were once many many breeds of pig in Italy (elsewhere too), now if you talk with those who make cold cuts you'll hear a relatively...MORE small number of breeds mentioned, one of the most popular being the Large White. Or a cross between a Large White and something else.

    But you still can find other breeds, and in Tuscany the breed of choice that people are willing to pay considerably more for is the Cinta Senese, or Sienese Banded, whose name makes perfect sense when you see it pictured. It's an old breed, appearing in the Allegoria del Buon Governo (Allegory of Good Government) Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted in Siena's Town hall in the late 1330s, and is now quite popular with small farmers.

    How to tell if the cold cut is really Cinta Senese? With salame or salamino you have to trust the butcher, but with prosciutto, look at the foot -- the Cinta Senese has black hind hooves, and most producers leave them on the prosciutto as proof of the breed.

    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 02 of 40

    Bresaola

    Cured Bresaola Beef. Teubner/Getty Images

    Bresaola is cured beef, a treat from the Valtellina, a major Alpine valley that extends east for close to a hundred miles from the top of Lake Como. The Valtellinesi have been making it for long enough that they etymology of the word is uncertain; some say it derives from sala come brisa, a reference to the use of salt in preserving meats, and others say it derives from brasa, the brasiers that were once used to heat the chambers where the meat was cured.

    In any case, bresaola is now made by slat...MORE curing beef with spices, and then air drying it for several months.

    Unlike most cold cuts, which are usually served with bread, bresaola is finely sliced, and seasoned with a mixture of olive oil, salt, and pepper, to which many people add some lemon juice. Some also add flakes of Parmigiano.

    In addition to beef bresaola, one can also find bresaola made from horse meat, and I have seen bresaola d'asino (from an ass) too. As a general rule, a piece of bresaola made from beef (pictured here) will be slightly larger and a bit lighter in color than one made from horse, while bresaola d'Asino is almost black.

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    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 03 of 40

    Capocollo

    Capocollo, or Coppa: Cured Pork Shoulder
    Capocollo, or Coppa: Cured Pork Shoulder. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Also known as coppa, this is cured pork shoulder: Raw, and prepared with salt, herbs, and spices.

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    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 04 of 40

    Zampone and Cotechino:

    Zampone and Cotechino, stuffed pig's trotter and a sausage made from the same filling
    Two Good Things Born of War Zampone and Cotechino, stuffed pig's trotter and a sausage made from the same filling: both from Modena. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    In 1510 the people of Modena formed an alliance with Venice and flew the Venetian standard; Pope Giulio II, who was known as the Warrior Pope, took offence because he considered Modena to be in his sphere of influence, and besieged them. With no food coming in the Modenesi had to preserve what they had, and someone hit upon the idea of boning pigs' forelegs and stuffing them with a mixture of ground pork, pork rinds, and spices. As far as the Modensi are concerned the zampone was the only...MORE good thing to come of the siege -- the Pope won -- and they continued to make them.

    Zampone remained a local specialty until the advent of more intensive pig farming in the late 1800s, when people realized that it goes very well with the lentils almost all Italians eat to greet the New Year, at which point it rapidly became popular throughout the Peninsula.

    There are two kinds of zampone: Raw and precooked, and though most Italians buy the precooked kind, which comes in a foil packet one gently boils for 20 minutes, the raw ones are much tastier. A raw zampone does take more work, however: Soak it overnight in cold water to soften the skin, wrap it in gauze, and simmer it for 4 hours in water to cover in a fish pot. Come serving time, remove it from the water, slice it into half-inch rounds, and eat it at once with lentils because it's not good cold (nor does it reheat well).

    When eating a zampone one generally eats everything including the rind, which takes on a delightful gelatinous consistency. There are, however, people who find this gelatinous consistency abhorrent, and if you fall into this category there is also the cotechino, a 3-inch (8 cm) thick, 9-inch long sausage made with the same stuffing used for the zampone. The cooking time is about the same, and for those who would rather not watch a pot for hours there are precooked versions.

    Cotechini and zamponi are not limited to New Year's; both are popular throughout the winter in Northern Italy, especially during cold snaps. They play an important role in bollito misto, a boiled dinner consisting of boiled meats and vegetables (the more variety the better) served with sauces that vary from place to place, though one can usually expect salsa verde and mostarda di frutta, among other things. They can also stand alone; see, for example, cotechino fasciato.

    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 05 of 40

    Salame Toscano

    Salame Toscano
    Salami, in English Salame Toscano. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    Salame is a large (3-4 inches across) sausage made with ground pork and cubes of fat that are seasoned with garlic, salt, and spices, and stuffed into the pig's large intestine. It's then seasoned for several months, at which point it's ready for use, as either an antipasto or sandwich meat.

    The salame pictured here is Tuscan. 

    Salame's smaller cousin is salamino, (little salami) with a similar filling -- the fat may be ground somewhat finer -- but only an inch thick. The town of...MORE Felino, in Emilia Romagna, is famed for its salamino.

    Salamino piccante, spicy salamino, is made with enough red pepper to give it that familiar orange cast; in the US it's known as pepperoni.

    Though one does occasionally encounter salamino piccante as an ingredient, or over pizza, it and other salamis are generally consumed raw.

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    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 06 of 40

    Fresh Sopressa Vicentina

    Sopressa Vicentina, freshly made
    Freshly Made Sopressa Vicentina, freshly made. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    Sopressa alla Vicentina is a close cousin of salame: unlike salame, which is made from good cuts of pork that don't have other uses, however, sopressa is made with just about everything: the hams, shoulders, sides, and so on. About the only thing that doesn't go into it is the skin. Because of this, making sopressa requires at least a half a pig, and is not something most people would be able to tackle at home.

    These freshly made sopresse, which are about to go into the storage room to...MORE age, were made by Antonio and Simone, master norcini (cold cut makers) and close friends of Carlo Sitizia and Michela Chiaroloaro, the couple that owns and runs Palazzetto Ardi, an organic farm and agriturismo in the Vicentino.

    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 07 of 40

    Sopressa Vicentina

    Seasoned Sopressa Vicentina
    Well Seasoned Seasoned Sopressa Vicentina. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    Sopressa alla Vicentina is a close cousin of salame: unlike salame, which is made from good cuts of pork that don't have other uses, however, sopressa is made with just about everything: the hams, shoulders, sides, and so on. About the only thing that doesn't go into it is the skin. Because of this, making sopressa requires at least a half a pig, and is not something most people would be able to tackle at home.

    This is an aged sopressa, the last one left from the previous year, and will...MORE be wonderful sliced. It was made by Antonio and Simone, master norcini (cold cut makers) and close friends of Carlo Sitizia and Michela Chiaroloaro, the couple that owns and runs Palazzetto Ardi, an organic farm and agriturismo in the Vicentino.

    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 08 of 40

    Wild Boar Salamino and Lonzino

    Wild Boar Salamino and Lonzino, Cured Pork Loin
    Two Treats Wild Boar Salamino and Lonzino, Cured Pork Loin. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    I'm not sure I've ever encountered a salame made from wild boar. Perhaps the animal's too lean, or too richly flavored. Salamino di cinghiale, which is about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) in diameter, is on the other hand quite common, especially in Tuscany and in Umbria. It's usually more expensive than a salamino made from pork, but richly flavored and (to my mind) worth the added expense.

    Lonzino is instead a delicacy from the pig: Pork loin, trimmed of fat, slipped into a casing, and...MORE cured as one might a capocollo or a prosciutto. Its one of the leanest cold cuts, and quite delicate in flavor.

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    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 09 of 40

    Salame Felino

    Salame Felino: a pork salami from the town of Felino, in Emilia Romagna
    A Renowned Delicacy Salame Felino: a pork salami from the town of Felino, in Emilia Romagna. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Despite its name, Salame Felino has nothing to do with cats. Rather, it's made in the town of Felino, in the foothills of the Apennines behind Parma, and is renowned for its delicacy. Most Salame Felino you'll find in shops are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter (4 cm) and up to 18 inches (40 cm) long, but you can find specially made Salame Felino that's considerably longer, up to about 6 feet (180 cm). Most impressive!

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    Affettati Misti, a...MORE mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 10 of 40

    Salame Milanese

    Salame Milanese: Fine grained, and with a mixture of beef and pork
    Pork, Beef, and Fine Fat Salame Milanese: Fine grained, and with a mixture of beef and pork. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Salame Milanese is one of the standard North Italian cold cuts. It's made with beef, pork, and pork fat that's ground to the size of grains of rice. Tasty, and perfect for sandwiches.

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  • 11 of 40

    Salame Ungherese

    Salame Ungherese is a fine-grained mix of pork, pork fat, and beef, lightly smoked
    With A Hint Of Smoke... Salame Ungherese is a fine-grained mix of pork, pork fat, and beef, lightly smoked. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    As you might guess from the name, Salame Ungherese draws on Eastern European traditions. In composition it closely resembles Salame Milanese -- it's made with beef, pork, and finely ground pork fat -- but it is also lightly smoked, which gives it added depth and complexity, and makes it a bit more exclusive: People either like the smoky overtones, which aren't that common in Italian cooking, or they do not.

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  • 12 of 40

    Salamino Piccante

    Salamino Piccante: Pepperoni
    Pepperoni! Salamino Piccante: Pepperoni. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Salamino piccante, known as pepperoni in parts of the the English-speaking world, is a thin salami that has been flavored with enough hot pepper to give it that familiar reddish cast. It's made in much of south Italy, where you will also find salamis flavored with hot pepper, and even prosciutti.

    Salamino piccante is a fairly common ingredient (in southern dishes), some like it as a snack, and you'll find it on pizza.

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    Affettati Misti, a mixed...MORE cold cut antipasto

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  • 13 of 40

    'Nduja

    Nduja, a fiery spreadable Calabrian salami
    Hot! Hot! Hot! 'Nduja, a fiery spreadable Calabrian salami. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    'Nduja, pronounced 'nduia in Italian or 'ndueea in English, is a soft, spreadable Calabrian salami made with a tremendous amount of red pepper, which gives it a threateningly reddish cast and a very refreshing burst of heat. Though one can spread it as is over bread (or add it to sauces or whatnot), the nicest way to enjoy it is to scoop it out of the casing with a spoon, warm it in a little pot over a candle flame (Calabresi use terracotta warming pots), and dip bread into it....MORE It's a fantastic antipasto or party food.

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    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 14 of 40

    Mortadella di Bologna

    Mortadella di Bologna
    The Ultimate Sandwich Meat Mortadella di Bologna. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    Mortadella is the city of Bologna's signature cold cut, from whence the name of its American offshoot, Bologna.

    Mortadella di Bologna is a cooked pork sausage made from pork ground fine, traditionally in a mortar (mortaio, from whence the Italian name), with spices and cubes of fat. Mortadellas range tremendously in size, from little ones for home use to monsters a foot in diameter and ten long for delicatessens. There are also variations, for example mortadella with cubes of ham or...MORE mortadella with pistachio nuts.

    Mortadella is one of the finest sandwich meats imagineable, and is especially nice as a filling for focaccia, with or without cheese. But it is also a common ingredient, in stuffings, and sometimes takes center stage:
    Mousse di Mortadella, a tasty dip.
    Tagliatelle with Mortadella, pasta with a tasty sauce.

    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 15 of 40

    Salsicce

    Salsicce Fresche, fresh Italian sausages
    Fresche, or Fresh In This Case Salsicce Fresche, fresh Italian sausages. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    Salsicce (pronounced salseeche) are link sausages, made with ground pork, cubed pork fat, spices, and herbs. They're consumed three different ways.

    • Raw when fresh, in a sandwich (they have to be very fresh and one has to be a great fan of raw pork to eat them this way -- more of a fan than I usually am).
    • Cooked when fresh -- either as is on the grill, or with the casing removed, as an ingredient in other dishes (for example, try slipping a couple of skinned sausages into the cavity the next...MORE time you roast a whole chicken).
    • Thinly sliced, once they've aged for a couple of months. In this case they're much like salami and can be a real treat.
    Want to make sausages? You'll find instructions here.
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  • 16 of 40

    Luganega Sausages

    Luganega sausages, one with fennel and the other with hot pepper
    A Tradition of the Veneto Luganega sausages, one with fennel and the other with hot pepper. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    Luganeghe (singular Luganega) are slim sausages. The casing is filled, as with any sausage, but then they're not twisted into links. Rather, the butcher (if there's space in the display case) coils the sausage up in a tight spiral, the way sailors coil lines on the decks of boats, and removes a length from the spiral when one asks for it. It's always fresh, not cured.

    Though there are north Italians who claim the Luganega as a signature northern sausage, it is actually south Italian...MORE in origin, deriving its name from Lucania, the Ancient term for what is now Basilicata, on the instep of the boot.

    Roman legionaries stationed in Lucania greatly enjoyed it, and took it with them when they were ordered north.

    Unflavored Luganega sausage works well as an ingredient, for example in riso e luganeghe (rice and luganega) or verze e luganeghe (Savoy cabbage and luganega. One can also grill luganeghe, and the flavored ones pictured here will be especially nice this way; to make them easier to turn, coil them up tightly and then put two wooden skewers through them at right angles.

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    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 17 of 40

    Prosciutto Dolce

    Prosciutto dolce di Modena is quite similar to Prosciutto di Parma
    This particular prosciutto is from Modena Prosciutto dolce di Modena is quite similar to Prosciutto di Parma. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    People have written books about Northern Italy's cured raw hams. Broadly speaking, they can be divided into two categories, dolce (sweet), and salato, casalingo, or Toscano (salty, home made, or Tuscan). The former is more refined and more expensive.

    Though the best known prosciutto dolce is probably Prosciutto di Parma, other provinces in Emilia Romagna also make it, and this prosciutto from Modena, which I photographed during a presentation at Torino's Salone del Gusto, closely...MORE resembles Prosciutto di Parma in appearance and flavor.

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  • 18 of 40

    Finely Sliced Prosciutto Dolce

    Finely sliced Prosciutto dolce di Modena
    Lean, and with white fat Finely sliced Prosciutto dolce di Modena. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    People have written books about Northern Italy's cured raw hams. Broadly speaking, they can be divided into two categories, dolce (sweet), and salato, casalingo, or Toscano (salty, home made, or Tuscan). The former is more refined and more expensive.

    This is finely sliced prosciutto dolce from Modena, not Parma (though it closely resembles Parma) and is quite lean, with deep red meat and pure white fat. Ideal with a melon, or in a sandwich!

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  • 19 of 40

    Prosciutto Toscano DOP

    Prosciutto Toscano, or Prosciutto Salato
    Or, Prosciutto Salato Prosciutto Toscano DOP, or Prosciutto Salato. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    People have written books about Northern Italy's cured raw hams. Broadly speaking, they can be divided into two categories, dolce (sweet), and salato, casalingo, or Toscano (salty, home made, or Tuscan). The former is more refined and more expensive. The latter is more heavily salted, and is also rubbed with a spice mixture called agliata, made with garlic and pepper.

    This is a Prosciutto Toscano DOP (DOP means certified), and its cut surface, where the ham was attached to the pig, is heavily...MORE peppered. It will be more flavorful than a prosciutto dolce, and (in my opinion) holds up to summer temperatures and humidities better. In short, the perfect accompaniment to a melon, especially in August.

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  • 20 of 40

    Made by a Local Butcher

    Artisinal prosciutto salato
    And the sort of Prosciutto People Make at Home Artisinal prosciutto salato. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    The Prosciutto Toscano DOP shown in the previous picture looks (and is) perfect: It was made to be presented at Torino's Salone del Gusto. If you visit a local butcher or deli that cures its prosciutti in a well-ventilated cellar out back, or have a friend who likes to home-cure, you may find a prosciutto casalingo along these lines. It may not look as nice, but it will be wonderful.

    Want to try making prosciutto? You'll find instructions here.

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    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 21 of 40

    A Prosciutto Casentinese

    A Prosciutto salato from the Casentino, the highlands above Arezzo
    Note the tail! A Prosciutto salato from the Casentino, the highlands above Arezzo. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    In addition to the more renowned prosciutti such as Parma or Regular Toscano, there are many others, distinguished on the basis of the kinds of pigs used, what they eat, and the air they prosciutto seasons in. Il Casentino, the rugged highlands between Arezzo and Florence, is well known for its prosciutti, made from pigs that forage in the area's thick forests. The breed used to make this particular prosciutto is a Cinta Senese, an ancient breed (it appears in Medieval paintings) that's...MORE dark, with a white band over the shoulders -- you can see it in the picture behind the prosciutto -- and quite flavorful. The Cinta Senese's toenails are black, and are left on the prosicutto to prove that the prosciutto is indeed from a Cinta Senese.

    The tail? Some Norcini (makers of cold cuts) leave it.

    Want to try making prosciutto? You'll find instructions here.

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    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 22 of 40

    A Freshly Cut Prosciutto Salato

    The fat of Prosciutto Salato can be rosy
    The Fat Can Be Rosy The fat of Prosciutto Salato can be rosy. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    The flesh of properly cured Prosciutto Dolce is deep red, and the fat quite white.

    The flesh of a Prosciutto Salato, or Casalingo, can be darker than that of a prosciutto dolce, and the fat often has a rosy pinkish hue. If you are offered prosciutto salato with fat this color, it's fine.

    Want to try making prosciutto? You'll find instructions here.

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    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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  • 23 of 40

    Prosciutto San Daniele

    Prosciutto San Daniele
    Stradivariano Prosciutto San Daniele. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    With Prosciutto San Daniele we return to Northern Italy, and specifically San Daniele, a town in the province of Udine that's tucked up against the Slovenian border. prosciutto San Daneile is Dolce, and it can be extremely refined. Unlike the prosciutti of Emilia (Parma and Modena), which are rounded and rather stubby, Prosciutti from San Daniele are pressed to give them a characteristic, elongate "Stradivarian" shape (by women, according to the Consorzio -- men lack the necessary...MORE touch).

    Udine is in Friuli Venezia Giulia, and though the city is culturally Italian, the province borders the Slavic lands to the east, and the area was long an Austrian province. As a result there is a fair amount of cultural crosstalk, and you'll encounter practices and techniques that are rare in other parts of Italy. For example, many Norcini (master cold cut makers) lighly smoke their prosciutti. Not enough to cook them, but enough to add a haunting and very pleasant complexity to the prosciutto.

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  • 24 of 40

    Prosciutto di Cinghiale

    Prosciutto di Cinghiale: Wild boar prosciutto still has bristles.
    Made From Wild Boar Prosciutto di Cinghiale: Wild boar prosciutto still has bristles. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    If you visit a market and see a prosciutto whose uncut (outer) surface has a thick coating of bristles, you have found prosciutto di cingiale, or wild boar prosciutto. With respect to prosciutto from a pig, prosciutto di cinghiale is leaner and darker, and also more richly flavored.

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  • 25 of 40

    Speck

    Speck, the Alto Adige's smoked Pancetta
    A Delight From The Sud Tyrol Speck, the Alto Adige's smoked Pancetta. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    Speck is a specialty of the Sud Tirol, or Alto Adige, a ham that's salt-cured and cold smoked, gaining delightful complexities from the experience. It's the traditional thing to offer guests who come calling in the Sud Tirol, and also contributes subtle nuances when used as an ingredient.

    More about speck and recipes that call for it
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  • 26 of 40

    A Fresh Whole Prosciutto

    A fresh whole prosciutto, or ham
    Ready to become...? A fresh whole prosciutto, or ham. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    A fresh whole prosciutto is a lot of meat. But if you have a large enough oven, it's a wonderful roast, ideally suited to feeding a multitude. Or, you could use a whole ham to make a prosciutto.

    This particular ham has perhaps been trimmed overmuch on the fleshy face, and has been sliced across the top. If you special order a ham, you can get one that's more intact. Want to try your hand at the Art? You'll find instructions here.

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  • 27 of 40

    Guanciale

    Guanciale: Cured pig's jowl is a considerable delicacy
    Cured Pig's Jowl Guanciale: Cured pig's jowl is a considerable delicacy. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Guanciale is quite popular as an ingredient in some parts of Italy, especially Lazio, where it contributes to a number of Rome's signature dishes, including spaghetti alla carbonara and bucatini all'amatriciana.

    In short, guanciale is primarily an ingredient used to add flavor. If you cannot find it, use pancetta tesa instead.

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  • 28 of 40

    Lardo Di Colonnata

    Freshly sliced Lardo di Colonnata
    Freshly sliced: A Wonderful Treat Freshly sliced Lardo di Colonnata. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    Lardo di Colonnata is cured lard the quarrymen who work Carrara marble have been using as sandwich meat for thousands of years.

    Before you get queasy, a little history:
    People have known about Carrara's white marble since Pre-Roman times, and have been extracting it since they discovered it. In the days before mechanized transportation most people went on foot, so having the town as close to the workplace as possible was important, and the Roman quarrymen (for the most part slaves) founded...MORE Colonnata on a ridge between two quarries. Steep forested hills where they could gather chestnuts, acorns, and such, but not much in the way of arable land, nor a place where one could easily raise goats, sheep, or cattle.

    But pigs do very well with acorns and chestnuts, so every family had at least one, which they would butcher in the winter. The meat, of course, got eaten, but pigs also have lots of lard, and the townspeople discovered they could cure it in their cellars if they put it in marble tubs, covering it with salt and herbs (garlic, rosemary, peppercorns, anise, and other things): The salt draws the water out of the fat, forming a brine, and in its dehydrated state the fat is much more receptive to the oils in the herbs, which flow into it and flavor it over a period of several months.

    The production technique guaranties a safe food because the salt ties up all the water, making it impossible for any form of bacteria to grow, the herbs and spices make it amazingly delicate and flavorful, and the calories make it perfect for the men to take into the quarries. People were already writing admiringly of it in the mid-1800s, and since then its renown has grown tremendously.

    Should you buy some Lardo di Colonnata, what to do with it? Slice it very thinly and serve it on warm slices of toasted bread as an antipasto. There are other fancier pates and spreads, but I find this to be the most satisfying use. Or use it in the kitchen: Finely sliced, and tied over a drier meat, for example pheasant or turkey breast, or even a lean boned pork loin. Saves basting and adds a delightful touch.

    More about Lardo di Colonnata
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  • 29 of 40

    Lardo di Colonnata

    Lardo di Colonnata, on display in a shop in Colonnata
    On Display Lardo di Colonnata, on display in a shop in Colonnata. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    Lardo di Colonnata isn't much to look at when it's curing in the tub: the brine is murky, with seasonings floating in it, and the lard itself shows through the brine. However, it does look nice in the dsiplay case.

    Should you buy some Lardo di Colonnata, what to do with it? Slice it very thinly and serve it on warm slices of toasted bread as an antipasto. There are other fancier pates and spreads, but I find this to be the most satisfying use. Or use it in the kitchen: Finely sliced, and...MORE tied over a drier meat, for example pheasant or turkey breast, or even a lean boned pork loin. Saves basting and adds a delightful touch.

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    Slicing Lardo di Colonnata

    Slicing Lardo di Colonnata, fresh from the tub
    Slicing Lardo di Colonnata, fresh from the tub. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    If you visit Colonnata, you'll be able to select exactly which piece you want.

    Next, what to do with it? Slice it very thinly and serve it on warm slices of toasted bread as an antipasto. There are other fancier pates and spreads, but I find this to be the most satisfying use. Or use it in the kitchen: Finely sliced, and tied over a drier meat, for example pheasant or turkey breast, or even a lean boned pork loin. Saves basting and adds a delightful touch.

    More about Lardo di Colonnata
    A...MORE general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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    Pancetta Tesa

    Pancetta tesa, or rigatino, or carne secca
    Or Rigatino, or Carnesecca Pancetta tesa, or rigatino, or carne secca. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    Pancetta is made from pork side, the same cut used to make bacon. However, it's not smoked, and there's no sugar involved. Just garlic, salt and spices, in particular a liberal dose of freshly ground pepper. It's almost always used as an ingredient in other dishes, sometimes providing flavor, and other times taking a commanding role, for example pasta alla carbonara or a rich pasta all'arrabbiata.

    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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    Fresh Pancetta

    Fresh pancetta, or pork side
    Or Pork Side Fresh pancetta, or pork side. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    Fresh pancetta, or pork side, is just that, the side of the pig, with rind and alternating lines of fat and lean meat. Depending upon the pig, the proportions of fat to lean meat can vary from 50-50 to almost entirely fat. You can use pork side to make pancetta at home, but it also has other uses: It's perfect for lardoning drier meats to keep them from drying out as they cook (you slip long thin sticks of lard into cuts in the meat, and the technique is especially important when roasting)....MORE Or you can grill pancetta, for example using the mixture of herbs Dario Cecchini employed in a TV demonstration a few years ago.

    How to make Pancetta
    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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    Tarese

    Tarese, A Variation on Pancetta from the Valdarno
    A Variation on Pancetta Tarese, A Variation on Pancetta from the Valdarno.

    Tarese is a specialty of San Giovanni Valdarno, a town about half way between Florence and Arezzo. At first glance it appears to be pancetta, and one could call it that. However, it's made from very large pigs, and the strips of leaner meat in it are broad enough that they can almost pass for prosciutto. It's quite interesting, and if you happen to visit San Giovanni Valdarno, worth seeking out. I especially recommend visiting San Giovanni during Carnevale, when they clebrate (with a...MORE fantastic meal) the miracle of Monna Tancia, the widow whose milk returned after her son and daughter-in-law fell to the plague, thus allowing her to feed her newborn grandson.

    How to make Pancetta
    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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    Tarese

    Tarese, A Variation on Pancetta from the Valdarno: Sliced to show texture
    A Variation On Pancetta, Sliced Tarese, A Variation on Pancetta from the Valdarno: Sliced to show texture.

    Tarese is a specialty of San Giovanni Valdarno, a town about half way between Florence and Arezzo. At first glance it appears to be pancetta, and one could call it that. However, it's made from very large pigs, and the strips of leaner meat in it are broad enough that they can almost pass for prosciutto. It's quite interesting, and if you happen to visit San Giovanni Valdarno, worth seeking out. I especially recommend visiting San Giovanni during Carnevale, when they clebrate (with a...MORE fantastic meal) the miracle of Monna Tancia, the widow whose milk returned after her son and daughter-in-law fell to the plague, thus allowing her to feed her newborn grandson.

    How to make Pancetta
    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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    Pancetta Arrotolata

    Pancetta Arrotolata: Rolled up pancetta
    It's Rolled Up Pancetta Arrotolata: Rolled up pancetta. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Pancetta arrotolata is a fairly common variation on pancetta tesa, or flat pancetta: The butcher seasons a slice of pork side, and then rolls it up tightly. With respect to pancetta tesa, it is more delicate and moister (less surface area to interact with the air). Unlike pancetta tesa, it often appears on antipasto platters. And it is used as an ingredient, of course.

    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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    Culatello

    Culatello, the most prized cold cut of Parma
    A Glorious Mistake Culatello, the most prized cold cut of Parma. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    If you ask an Italian amatore of cold cuts to name the best, the answer will probably be -- with no hesitation at all -- Culatello. The word culatello means "little backside" and refers to the fact that culatello is made from the major muscle group one finds in a prosciutto -- Burton Anderson calls it the Fillet -- seasoned and lightly salted, stuffed into a pig's bladder, tied to give it a pear-like shape, and then hung 8-12 months to cure in farm buildings in the Bassa Parmense,...MORE not far from the Po River, where the mist swirls through the windows, interacts with the molds on the walls, and imparts a hauntingly elusive something that makes all other cold cuts pale by comparison.

    Since it takes a whole ham, much of which gets discarded, to make a culatello, culatello is expensive (true, the cuttings are used to make other things, but they're worth much less than prosciutto). It's also becoming more difficult to find true artisinal culatello, because the farm buildings and the mists essential to its production are frowned upon by the health people of the EEU -- they're not sanitary enough. That the production of culatello dates back centuries, to the time an apprentice is said to have made a mistake while trimming a ham destined to become prosciutto (he cured what he was able to salvage), and that it has never made anyone sick is of little importance to the regulators.

    Though you may find strictly artisinal culatello produced elsewhere in the Bassa Parmense, the best known culatello is Culatello di Zibello (link in Italian), which is produced in and around the town of Zibello; Culatello di Zibello has been recognized by the EEU and granted DOP status (the equivalent of an appellation, but for foodstuffs)

    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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    Finocchiona:

    Finocchiona is a Tuscan salami made with fennel
    A Tuscan Salami Made With Fennel Finocchiona is a Tuscan salami made with fennel. © Kyle Phillips licensed to About.Com

    Finocchiona is a variation on salami that supposedly owes its origins to a thief at a fair near the town of Prato, who stole a fresh salami and hid it in a stand of wild fennel. When he returned for it he discovered it had absorbed the aromas of its hiding place and had become fit for the Gods.

    There are two kinds of finocchiona.

    • One is called finocchiona, and is shown here; it's made of finely ground pork and fat, laced with fennel, and aged for a while; it's fairly firm.
    • The other is...MORE called sbriciolona, a word that means crumbly, and though the mixture is the same it's much fresher -- so fresh that it simply crumbles unless sliced about a half inch thick. A good sbriciolona is an amazing treat, especially on a slice of schiacciata.
    How to make finocchiona
    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto
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    Finocchiona:

    Sbriciolona: A crumbly fennel-flavored Tuscan salami
    Sbriciolona Sbriciolona: A crumbly fennel-flavored Tuscan salami. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Finocchiona is a variation on salami that supposedly owes its origins to a thief at a fair near the town of Prato, who stole a fresh salami and hid it in a stand of wild fennel. When he returned for it he discovered it had absorbed the aromas of its hiding place and had become fit for the Gods.

    There are two kinds of finocchiona.

    • One is simply called finocchiona, and is made of finely ground pork and fat, laced with fennel, and aged for a while; it's fairly firm.
    • The other, shown here, is...MORE called sbriciolona, a word that means crumbly, and though the mixture is the same it's much softer -- so soft that it simply crumbles unless sliced about a half inch thick. A good sbriciolona is an amazing treat, especially on a slice of schiacciata.
    How to make finocchiona
    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto
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    Soppressata

    Soppressata: The Tuscan version is made with pork cuttings, and cooked
    The Tuscan Version: Cooked Pig Trimmings Soppressata: The Tuscan version is made with pork cuttings, and cooked. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Soppressata varies considerably from place to place in italy.

    In Tuscany it's is a sausage made primarily from leftover pork cuttings -- cartilage, snippets of meat, and so on, which are stuffed into the skin of the animal, or a burlap bag, and cooked. Therefore, in appearance it somewhat resembles a porchetta, the roast pork done whole over a spit. However, the taste is quite different and rather particular; people generally make sure their guests like it before offering it.

    A general...MORE overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto

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    Buristo

    Buristo: A rich Sienese pig's blood salami
    A Fall Treat For The Traditionally Minded Buristo: A rich Sienese pig's blood salami. © Kyle Phillips Licensed to About.Com

    Buristo is a fairly soft Sienese salami that owes much of its color and texture to the use of pig's blood in making the impasto, together with herbs and spices. It's only made in the fall, when pigs are traditionally butchered, and is becoming difficult to find both because the health peaople keep a close watch over those who use animal blood, and because the younger generations, which didn't grow up feeling the pangs of hunger, are hesitant to eat it.

    If you visit Tuscany att he...MORE proper time and come across it, do give it a try: When well made it's quite delicate, and you may find youself asking for another sandwitch.

    A general overview of salumi, Italian cold cuts.
    Affettati Misti, a mixed cold cut antipasto