Salami and Sausages of Valtellina
This name is commonly given to a particular kind of sausage product since it is larger than the traditional cotechino (fresh pork sausage). It is typical of Valtellina and is made of only pork rind seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic, and stuffed into a beef casing. The size can vary from small, similar to a ‘cacciatorino’ (small ‘hunters’ sausage), to large, similar to ‘zampone’ (sausage made using pig’s foot as casing). The heaviest cotecotto usually has some lean pork and beef in the filling.
This type of sausage needs to be cooked for about an hour, either boiled or placed among hot ashes. One traditional recipe calls for it to be boiled in chestnut water. It goes well with polenta or boiled potatoes.
MORTADELLA DI FEGATO (LIVER MORTADELLA)
This is a speciality of Valtellina that bears a distant similarity to the ‘mazzafegati’ (pork sausage made with orange peel, pine nuts and raisins) of the Abruzzo and Molise regions.
It is a sausage product made of lean and fat pork meats, the fat usually coming from the throat or bacon, to which fifteen percent of pork liver is added. The mixture is flavoured with cinnamon-scented mulled wine, cloves and other spices in a natural casing and tied after having been folded in half.
It goes through an initial drying period after which it is aged for around two months, and then is ready for consumption.
It may be eaten raw, cut into slices, but it is usually left in water for a day then boiled for twenty minutes. It is served hot, accompanied by polenta, boiled potatoes and cooked vegetables.
EQUINE SALAMI OF CHIAVENNA
The most famous equine salami is the “slinzega,” made from cuts of horse meat, dry-salted in tubs originally made from beech or oak wood, but now made of stainless steel for hygiene reasons. The artisans add bay leaf, juniper, garlic and pepper to the salting mixture and the meat itself is sometimes also bathed with wine. The process is comparable to that of bresaola, including the ageing, which must last at least one month. The pieces, once ready, take on a very dark red colour. The average weight varies from three hundred grams (10.5 oz) to one and a half kilograms (3.5 lbs). It should be thinly sliced and enjoyed, with cocktails or as a snack, without any condiments.
In Chiavenna and other towns in the valley, ‘luganiga’ (long, thin sausage) and ‘cacciatore’ (small ‘hunters’ sausage) made with purely equine meat can be found. “Luganiga” may be eaten fresh or cooked on a grill. The “cacciatorini,” about one hundred grams (3.5 oz) in weight, are appropriate as a starter or, sliced, with cocktails.
The name derives not so much from the shape as from the characteristic way of holding it for slicing. It is placed on the arm like a violin and sliced thinly using the knife as a bow.
It is a speciality of Chiavenna, the Splugen Valley and most particularly of Valle San Giacomo. It is a prosciutto drawn from the thigh of goats or sheep, and sometimes even from roe deer or kids. The weight of the ‘violino’ varies from one to three kilograms (2 to 7 lbs.), depending on the animal used.
Production is strictly limited to the artisans of the zone and the distribution is just as strictly limited to local shops and some larger markets in the city that specialise in typical products of the area.