When it comes to meat toppings, there are plenty of choices – from the traditional, like ham and sausage, to atypical choices of clams, shrimp and alligator (yes, we’ve seen it!). Somewhere in the middle are salami –– often overlooked outside of sandwiches, these dry, cured meats offer just as much versatility as their traditional counterparts, but come in a variety of styles.
Salami are typically uncooked but are safe for consumption because they have been preserved through curing –– the word salami is derived from the Latin sal, or salt, one of the main preservatives. Depending on the variety, salami can lend salt or spice to a pizza or dish. Best of all, they have a long shelf-life when in their original casings (years!) and last around two weeks when sliced and refrigerated.
You’re probably not willing to try your hand at making salami, but if you were, you’d grind or hand-cut the meat and season it with spices and salt. It is then placed in a non-edible casing and hung to cure. The most popular salami choice is pepperoni. You probably already know that it is the top topping in America, but there are other salami varieties that can change the flavor profiles of your menu offerings. Popular choices include:
? cotto –– pork and veal seasoned with garlic and peppercorns
? Genoa –– pork and veal seasoned with garlic, pepper and red wine
? Milano –– pork, beef and pork fat seasoned with garlic and white wine
? Napoli –– beef and pork seasoned with red and black pepper
? soppressata –– pork seasoned with garlic and red pepper
? capicola –– made from pork shoulder only, seasoned with herbs, white or red wine
? pepperoni –– beef and pork seasoned with black and red pepper.
David Gordon, owner of Indiana based Pittsboro Pizzeria, uses cold salami on the restaurant’s chef salad, but gets more bang for his buck by including on the toasted Italian sub. “We are using a Genoa salami,” Gordon says. “When we opened three years ago, this is the one that (the distributor) brought us and we sampled. We just stuck with it.”
Gordon says it is difficult to tell if the ham “oils out” during baking since the sub sandwich is made with pepperoni and ham, but “it sells really well. The Italian sub is probably our best selling sub sandwich.” At $5.35, the 8-inch sandwich includes Genoa salami, pepperoni, ham, a little bit of onion and mozzerella.
When using salami on the chef salad, each slice is folded and cut into six pieces and sprinkled over the salad, along with pepperoni, ham and bacon. “We never considered going with a beef product,” Gordon says, adding that the salami complements the other meat flavors.
He purchases the Genoa in five-pound increments and has to restock one every week or two weeks.
Jonathan Goldsmith, proprietor of the AVPN-certifi ed Spacca Napoli in Chicago, is quick to point out the fact that his restaurant uses salumi –– a derivative of the salami family that can include cooked or smoke meats as well. “We love salumis,”
Goldsmith says. “We use it both for antipasti and we use it on our pizzas.” Goldsmith buys larger links of salumi and asks his distributor for their freshest offerings –– especially critical when used on Spacca Napoli’s antipasto misto platter, which is fi lled with meats, cheeses and olives.
“One of the nice things –– and I learned this in Parma –– is that we do a drizzle of balsamic vinagrette underneath the salumis, and it’s really beautiful.”
Goldsmith’s pizzas pair the meats with bufala or fi or di latte mozzerella cheeses, basil, cherry tomatoes, provolone and arugula in different combinations. The “Cafona dell Rei” combines fi or di latte and smoked mozzarellas, capicola, proscuitto cotto, a sweet salami, basil and –– for a unique touch –– a sunnyside up egg.
Salami “definitely has a longer shelf life,” Goldsmith says. “I probably have $500 to $700 we’ll order and it’ll sit in the cooler for several months. “It’s wonderful. It’s versatile and there’s so many different things you can do with the meats and combine it with different cheeses across the menu.”
With so many varieties of salami available, talk to your distributor about how you plan to use it. If you choose a variety that is large in diameter, consider chopping the slices to make it go farther on pizzas and salads. Factor in the saltiness as well –– choose cheeses that complement rather than add to the overall texture and flavors. ?
Mandy Wolf Detwiler is managing editor at Pizza Today.