Sausages and Salamis
Pig-breeding farms in the region of Calabria are numerous and, consequently, there is a large and varied selection of preserved meat in the form of capocolli and other hams, and a whole family of sausages and salamis which make up a point of pride. Amongst the spices and the aromas which contribute to completing the flavour of these products, there are many fragrances which are typical of the region, from the seeds of wild fennel to the ever-present chilli pepper.
The processing of the Calabrian capocollo follows the same methodologies as those used in other regions of Southern Italy. This product is obtained from the upper part of the previously boned pork loin. The selected parts undergo a salting process which lasts from four to eight days. The addition of the necessary aromas precedes the wrapping and the tying up of this type of ham in a ‘natural skin’. The period of maturation is of at least one hundred days.
Also known as 'ndugghia or 'nnuglia, related in a likely way to a salami made of tripe which the French call andouille, this is a decidedly typical type of sausage, originating in the area of Monte Poro, inland from Capo Vaticano between Nicotera and Tropea. It is made from pork, pigs’ lard, liver and lungs which are finely minced and packed into a natural skin of intestines after having been knowingly and abundantly spiced with Calabrian chilli pepper. The period of maturation can last up to one year and contributes to the intensity of its flavour.
Apart from enriching a lively hors d’oeuvres, it is frequently used as a dressing for first courses and in dishes in need of a boost. Just as advisable is also to spread in suitable quantities onto a warm piece of toasted bread.
CALABRIAN PANCETTA (a kind of bacon)
This pancetta is worth a mention, taken from the lower part of the pig’s ribs. The main aspect is the thin streaks on the surface of the product, visible traces of the lean parts and the fatty parts: there is a rule which states that the lean meat must not exceed 40-50% of the total weight. The pancetta must be packed in rectangular pieces which should be between three and four centimetres (1 ¼ - 1 ½ inches) and which should not weigh less than three kilograms (6 ¾ lbs) and not more than four (9 lbs).
THE CALABRIAN SAUSAGE
Many of the characteristics required for the Calabrian sausage repeat those which the law requires for the soppressata, starting from the weight of the pigs. This product is made from meat taken from the shoulder or from the lower part of the ribs. The sausage mixture, spiced with black or red pepper, is packed into skins made from pigs’ intestines, and is left to mature for at least one month. The sausages are plaited together by hand to take on the well known "a catenella" (chainlink) aspect.
This product enjoys a great reputation even outside the region, above all for the good level of quality for which it is recognised. The ‘denomination of controlled origin’ guarantee is conceded to all the products which possess the characteristics required by the law.
The mixture must include the meat taken from the thigh or from the shoulder of pigs weighing more than one hundred and thirty kilograms. The meat must be minced not too finely (at “knife point”) and mixed together with 12 –15 per cent of selected quality fat before being packed into the natural skin made from intestines. If possible, the fat should be taken from the lard of the anterior part of the loin. Cooled and finely chopped, the complete mixture is seasoned with salt, chilli pepper (or pepper) and red wine. Some also add pigs’ blood or powdered sweet red peppers to make the colour more intense. In fact, it is the tone of the colour which is one of the characteristics for which Calabrian salamis and sausages are most appreciated. The last phase of the processing is the smoking, which takes a couple of months in the smoke of the fireplace. It is cylindrical in shape, and slightly flattened: the usual length is about fifteen centimetres (six inches), and with a diameter of six centimetres (2 ½ inches) or little more.