Cured Meat Craze

Salumi, pizza, rustic, rectangle, slices, recipeSalumi meats spice up menus

Once considered an old-school Italian ingredient, salumi has become the go-to ingredient for antipasto, pizza and salad. Salumi are Italian cured meat products predominantly made from pork (although salumi includes bresaola, which is made from beef).

At Seattle’s Tulio Ristorante, Executive Chef Walter Pisano, serves a coppa, oregano and mozzarella pizza. “The coppa is encased in crushed red chili,” he says. “That heat adds a nice balance to the sweet tomato sauce.”

Pisano’s antipasti misti arrives with prosciutto, spicy coppa, Crescenza, marinated olives, caponata and bruschetta. “It’s a great way to start a meal or make a meal,” says Pisano. “Seattleites love cured meats.”

They are not alone. Across the country, salumi dots many menus. Why are air-cured “salted” meats making a comeback?

“Many chefs are curing their own,” says Pisano. “The quality of cured meats in America has
become so high and what comes over from abroad are exceptional.”

Luciano Duco, chef de cuisine at Oliveto Restaurant and Café in Oakland, California credits the artisan food movement for the greater attention placed on non-traditional cured meats. “It’s no longer Genoa salami from the grocery store,” he says. “It’s salami seasoned with fennel using well-raised, flavorful pigs and handled with care. It surpasses what restaurants used in the past.”

Oliveto’s salumi platter rotates a mix of cured meats. “We make everything in house so it allows us a lot of flexibility. We produce anything from finocchiona to prosciutto,” says Duco. “Our platter is very popular. We can go through 30 pounds of finished product a week.”

At Wolfies PizzaMia, an artisan pizzeria and salumeria in Orlando, Florida, executive chef A.J. Haines also makes salumi in house using local ingredients. “This has become a lost art. We want to carry along the tradition, and at the same time control the flavor, process and cost,” he says.
For example, zest from sliced oranges for the bar are used to cure meats. Meats dry in vintage wine coolers stationed throughout the restaurant. “It’s a great way to showcase our phenomenal product,” says Haines. “We slice it and let people try it. Some people come back and buy a pound of it.”

When diners are not ordering meats to go, Haines says, they are ordering it for their table. The chef’s salumi platter features cured meat slices, olives, pig (lard) butter, chutney, pickled peppers and baguette.

Antipasto plates include salumi meats, aged provolone, pesto, giardiniera and peppers over lettuce with garlic croutons. Pizza combinations include lavender-and-orange-peel-spiced bresaola, apples and Gorgonzola; or a tomato-sauced pie with buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto.

Haines adds the meat after removing pies from the oven. “That little bit of heat lightly cooks the meat activating the flavor and aromatics,” he says.

sliced, salumi, cured meat, cutting board, ingredients, pizza toppingFrom prosciutto, pancetta, guanciale, capicola and soppressatta to finocchiona, speck, lardo and nduja (a soft, spicy spreadable salumi) –– cured meats dominate Spacca Napoli Pizzeria in Chicago. “Cured meats at Spacca are everywhere,” says padrone Jonathan Goldsmith.

Goldsmith’s favorite pizzas include the Vongole (made with marinated clams, guanciale and jalapeños); Il Padrino (made with tomato sauce, caciocavallo, soppressatta picante and Gaeta olives) and nduja (smoked mozzarella, nduja, caramelized red onions and cherry tomatoes).
Cured meats enhance the salumi plate, minestra maritata soup and a caprino salad built with treviso radicchio, goat cheese and warm pancetta vinaigrette.

While Goldsmith admits cured meat items are popular, he still entices diners with free tastes, of say, mortadella with pistachio while they wait for tables.

After all, when it comes to cured meats, can you ever over-do it?

“No, never,” says Haines.

Garlic Salami

Recipe courtesy of Oliveto Restaurant and Café

2.2 pounds pork shoulder, diced
4 ounces pork fat back, diced
11/3 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
½ teaspoon Insta Cure #2
1¾ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon dextrose
2 tablespoons distilled water
¼ teaspoon T-SPX starter culture
2 12-inch links beef middles, rinsed of salt and soaked in water for half an hour

Place meat and fat on a sheet tray. Freeze for at least half an hour to harden meat. Grind through a meat grinder with a 3/8-inch plate. Add remaining ingredients except starter culture. Mix until all is incorporated. Dissolve starter culture in 30 milliliters of distilled water. Add to meat mixture and mix until mass becomes sticky and looks homogenous. Stuff tightly into casings. Tie both ends. Ferment at 70 F. degrees for 48 hours at 90-percent humidity. Remove and place in a drying environment at 55 to 60 F with 75-percent humidity for 6 to 8 weeks or until it loses 30 percent of its starting weight.

Filetto

Recipe courtesy of Wolfies PizzaMia

½ teaspoon pink salt no. 2
4 tablespoons Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, toasted and cracked
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and cracked
5 garlic cloves, thin sliced
5 tablespoons dried lavender
2 oranges, zested
2 pounds pork tenderloin

Mix spices together. Roll meat in it. Seal meat in a plastic bag. Refrigerate for two weeks. Rotate bag.

Completely rinse off herb crust with white wine. Place in container. Refrigerate for one day.
Trust with butchers twine. Hang for 3 to 4 weeks at 55 F. Meat is ready after losing 30 percent of its starting weight.

Melanie Wolkoff Wachsman is a freelance writer in Louisville, Kentucky. She covers food, business and lifestyle trends.