Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Capocollo Chronicles: Italian Cured Meat Magic

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When it comes to Italian cured meats, prosciutto and salami often steal the spotlight. But there’s another delicious and versatile option that deserves more recognition: capocollo.

In this article, we’ll explore the history and production of capocollo, as well as its unique flavor and uses in Italian cuisine.

What is Capocollo?

capocollo

Capocollo, also known as coppa or capicola, is a type of Italian cured meat made from pork shoulder or neck. It is typically seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices, and then cured for several months.

The name “capocollo” comes from the Italian word “capo” meaning head and “collo” meaning neck, as the meat is traditionally made from the neck of the pig. However, it can also be made from the shoulder or loin.

History of Capocollo

capocollo

The origins of capocollos can be traced back to the southern region of Italy, specifically the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. It is believed that the meat was first produced by butchers in the area in the 18th century.

Capocollos was originally made as a way to preserve meat for long periods of time, as it was often difficult to keep fresh meat in the hot climate of southern Italy. The curing process also added a unique flavor to the meat, making it a popular delicacy.

Production of Capocollo

capocollo

The production of capocollo begins with selecting the best cuts of pork shoulder or neck. The meat is then seasoned with a mixture of salt, pepper, and other spices, such as fennel, garlic, and red pepper flakes.

After seasoning, the meat is tightly rolled and tied with string to maintain its shape. It is then hung to dry & cure for several months. The length of the curing process can vary, but it typically takes at least three months for the meat to develop its distinct flavor.

Flavor and Uses of Capocollo

Capocollo has a rich, savory flavor with a hint of spiciness from the added seasonings. The curing process also adds a slightly tangy and smoky taste to the meat.

Serving Capocollo

Capocollos is typically served thinly sliced, either on its own or as part of a charcuterie board. It can also be used as a topping for pizza or added to sandwiches for a flavorful kick.

In Italy, capocollos is often served as part of an antipasto platter, alongside other cured meats, cheeses, and olives. It can also be enjoyed as a snack with a glass of wine.

Cooking with Capocollo

Capocollo sandwich

Capocollos can also be used in cooking to add flavor to a variety of dishes. It can be diced and added to pasta sauces, soups, and stews, or used as a topping for bruschetta or crostini.

One popular dish that features capocollos is “pasta alla chitarra con capocollo”, a traditional dish from the Abruzzo region of Italy. This dish combines capocollos with homemade pasta, tomatoes, and pecorino cheese for a delicious and hearty meal.

Types of Capocollo

There are several variations of capocollos, each with its own unique flavor and production process.

Capocollo di Martina Franca

Capocollo di Martina Franca is the original and most well-known type of capocollos. It is made in the town of Martina Franca in Puglia, using traditional methods and seasonings.

This type of capocollos is known for its distinct flavor and is often considered the highest quality. It is also protected by the European Union’s Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, which ensures that it is made according to specific standards and in the designated region.

Capocollo di Calabria

Capocollo di Calabria is made in the southern region of Calabria and is known for its spicy flavor. It is seasoned with red pepper flakes and other spices, giving it a distinct heat.

Capocollo di Basilicata

Capocollos di Basilicata is made in the region of Basilicata and is known for its unique shape. It is made by rolling the meat into a spiral shape, rather than the traditional cylindrical shape.

Where to Buy Capocollo

Capocollo can be found in most Italian specialty stores and delis. It is also becoming more widely available in supermarkets and online retailers.

When purchasing capocollos, look for a piece that is firm and evenly colored. Avoid any pieces that are discolored or have a strong odor.

Conclusion

Capocollo may not be as well-known as other Italian cured meats, but it is a delicious and versatile option that should not be overlooked. Its rich flavor and unique production process make it a must-try for any food lover.

Whether served on its own, used as a topping, or incorporated into dishes, capocollo is sure to add a delicious touch to any meal. So next time you’re looking for a new addition to your charcuterie board or a flavorful ingredient for your pasta sauce, give capocollos a try. You won’t be disappointed.

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