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Cured Meats that You Need to Know

We’ve written about prosciutto before but even if this is probably the most used in restaurant menus all around, we believe that anyone who works in a professional kitchen has to develop a generous amount of basic knowledge in the cooking field, so we’d like to add some more important cured meats to the list of must-have-knowledge.

For example, mortadella definitely deserves to be a part of the “basic” kit of concepts for those who want to be properly initiated in the art of cooking, especially since this type of salami (or sausage) has been prepared in the Mediterranean area ever since Roman times. Its most likely birthplace was Bologna and its name comes from the use of myrtle instead of pepper for the flavoring of the mix of (pork) meat and fat (about 15%, usually from the neck area). Also, another distinctive trait for mortadella is the presence of green “spots” when you look at it cut in slices, which is nothing else than pistachio.

Pepperoni, the must-have topping on Diavola pizza – a spicy salami made of pork meat (mixed or not with beef) and thoroughly seasoned with hot peppers, but also with other spices. The concept of pepperoni that is popular nowadays is mostly American, with a finer grind and an artificial membrane, but its name betrays its deper origins – Italy, from Naples or Calabria.

Pancetta is a ham shaped into a roll (arrotolata – originating in the Northern part of Italy) or flat (stesa – as they do it in the middle or Southern Italy) is made of pork belly through a similar process to prosciutto. In fact, the two types of cured meat are at times interchangeable in use (also maybe with their third similar relative – the famous bacon). The meat is salted and often enriched with pepper (maybe with other spices as well) and in Italy you’ll usually get to eat it raw, cut into very thin slices.

Clearly the list can go on and on, but at least these should be among the essential ABC. Or maybe you’d add something else to the “basic kit”?

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