Salami and Sausages
The salami tradition of the Lazio region consists more of the elaboration of entire meats and less of the making of sausages. The prosciutto, or hams are, however, very important: the compactness and flavour of these are similar to the Tuscan and Umbrian ones, and also the elaboration procedure, using entire pieces of meat, is similar to the one used in the confining regions. Therefore, good capocollo, excellent lard, and above all the guanciale (which is an absolute must in the preparation of a real pastasciutta alla carbonara) are significant of this region.
In the Roman osterie (or taverns) at the time of Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli, the coppiette were small, dried slices of horse meat which were used (by the inn-keeper) to increase the guest’s thirst and to increase the consumption of the fojette. They were sold, as the name itself indicates, two at a time. Today the changed habits of the Romans and the diminished number of horses has meant that this particular type of meat has fallen into disuse. However, in Ariccia and in a few communities in the province of Frosinone (particularly in Guarcino and Vico) the coppiette (together with porchetta or roast sucking pig) are still honoured. In fact these communities have updated their production processes, starting with the meat. The coppiette in the Ciociara region are, in fact, today made from pork meat (from the pig’s leg). The meat strips, which are cut with a special type of blade, are seasoned with salt and natural spices. They are then threaded through with string and hemp and are separately strung up, without touching one another, and left for approximately 60 days.
MORTADELLINA AFFUMICATA (Smoked Mortadellina)
This product is typical of the area of Amatrice, which lies at the border between Lazio and Abruzzo. In fact, this same salami is produced in a similar way at Poggio Cancelli and Campotosto in the province of Aquila. It is a salami of a fine texture, made from selected meats. A square-shaped length of lard is inserted in the centre which makes this speciality unmistakable. It is interesting to mention that during the production process the freshly made mortadelline are tied in double bundles with twine which is kept in tension by special wooden keys, specially made by craftsmen. The seasoning takes place in two phases; the first is in front of an open fireplace (which gives this product a lightly smoked flavour), and the second phase is to air the meat for two to three months. The mortadellina is of a pinkish-mauve colour, its form is roundish, and the flavour tends towards sweet.
PORCHETTA DI ARICCIA (Roast suckling pig of Ariccia)
The popularity of the porchetta di Ariccia, a traditional food product of the Lazio region at feasts and fairs, is ample and widespread.
The animal, of medium dimensions, is aromatised with an agreeable mixture of salt, pepper, garlic, and wild fennel, and then roasted on a spit. The porchetta is normally cut into slices and sold by weight. It is accompanied by home-made bread which makes a rich and tasty meal. The shiny and crunchy outer skin is much appreciated by gourmets.
Although Ariccia is considered the home of this speciality (a well known sagra or feast is celebrated on the first Sunday of July) excellent types of porchetta also come from the area around Rieti and the Ciociara area.
PROSCIUTTO DI BASSIANO (Prosciutto of Bassiano)
This prosciutto is produced in Bassiano, a hamlet in the province of Latina surrounded by sturdy city walls, where the climatic conditions are particularly favourable for the seasoning of meats. The difference in the production of the Bassiano prosciutto is a special procedure of aromatising which is carried out with a marinade made of white wine, garlic, and pepper. The prosciutto is then left to season for at least a year. This procedure is sufficient to give the meat a spicy flavour.
The last Sunday of July is dedicated to a crowded sagra, or feast, in Bassiano to celebrate ‘their’ prosciutto.
PROSCIUTTO DI GUARCINO (Prosciutto of Guarcino)
A tradition of great reliability and an ideal microclimate for seasoning (which is determined by the location of this town which confines with two large valleys) guarantees the quality of the Prosciutto di Guarcino. Guarcino is an agricultural centre about twenty kilometres from the town of Frosinone. The production procedures respect traditional methods, but the mixture used to marinate the prosciutto calls for a good red wine, spices, chilli pepper, and lard. The seasoning takes a long time, at least fifteen to sixteen months. This prosciutto’s colour is matt-red to pinkish-red, the form is slightly oblong, the flavour very tasty and aromatic.
PROSCIUTTO ROMANO (Roman Prosciutto)
Rome and its province vaunt a prosciutto of excellent quality, which is appreciated mostly locally since the production is limited. Only approximately 250 quintals (equal to about 500 hundred weights) are produced per year; a quantity which does not allow vast commercialisation. The production area is mainly the one closest to the Lake of Bracciano (Anguillara Sabazia and Bracciano), and also the communities of Fiumicino and Cerveteri
PROSCIUTTO DI CINGHIALE (Wild Boar Prosciutto)
The growing availability of wild boar has inspired the producers of Guarcino to also make a very much appreciated prosciutto from the thighs of this animal. Although almost fat-less, this prosciutto is of soft and tasty, dark red meat. The boar’s leg is left intact with the hoof attached and the whole part of the rind conserves the characteristic bristly boar hair. About seven hundred and twenty quintals (about 1,400 hundred weights) are produced per year.
Guanciale is a type of charcuterie similar to pancetta in making and use, but it is less fatty. It is made from pig’s throat and cheek, that is salted and seasoned with pepper. It is an ingredient used in many recipes, especially in those from the Lazior region, but also in those from the entire area of Central Italy. Almost always cut in slices or small squares and fried in oil, its special flavour completes pasta dishes such as pasta all'amatriciana and pasta alla carbonara. Its flavour also accompanies vegetables very well; in fact the local dish fave col guanciale (broad beans with guanciale) is one of the traditional dishes of the region.