Salamis, Sausages and Hams
The pig is the guiding thread of the inland Marches gastronomy and its history is tied to that of the share-cropping families; it was reared with acorns and mash and the butchering would take place during the winter when the food produced by the other agricultural activities was becoming scarce and the low temperatures permitted the processing and the preservation of the pork meats. The custom of making the best use of all the parts of the pig, even of the less prized parts, gave birth to the two most typical sausages and salamis of the region, the ciauscolo or ciavuscolo and the salame lardellato. From Carpegna, in the Montefeltro area, where a sweet prosciutto (cured ham) is produced which is also known of abroad, to the furthest, most southern end of the territory, pork meat processed in particular and very characteristic ways can be found in the larder and on the tables still today.
CIAUSCOLO OR CIAVUSCOLO
This is the sausage typical of the inland areas of the provinces of Ascoli Piceno, Ancona and Macerata. The home town for this delicacy is Visso, but the ciauscolo from Matelica, Pieve Torina, Montefortino and Montemonaco is also very traditional. Its softness and its fine texture are reminiscent of the traditional French patés which are spread on bread.
The traditional recipe calls for its preparation with the least prized parts of the animal taken from the belly, the ribs and the shoulder with the addition of fat. The mixture is seasoned with salt and pepper, garlic and vino cotto, and then passed through the mincing machine to be minced very finely. Stuffed into intestine, it is similar to a large sausage and is smoked, sometimes with juniper berries, for a few days. It is then matured for a period of time which varies from two to three months in well ventilated premises or in the cellar.
When it is fresh, it is exquisite spread onto slices of home made bread, whereas then it is matured, in some areas of the Upper Macerata area, it is used in the place of cotechino (a type of fresh sausage).
COPPA FROM ASCOLI PICENO
In some areas of the province of Ascoli Piceno, coppa is the name given to a type of salami which is prepared with pork rind, the cartilage, ears, tongue and snout of the pig. These ingredients are boiled for three or four hours together with the bones of the animal which are then carefully cleaned of all the useful meat. All the parts are then coarsely ground up and seasoned with pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, almonds, pistachio nuts and finely chopped walnuts.
The mixture is then stuffed into the intestine casing which is called ‘trombone’ due to its large size, and tied up with string. It is then boiled once again in the same water, and lastly, is left to cool, pressed down by a weight to make it more compact. After four or five weeks, the coppa is ready; it is a speciality which is significant of the history of this region, a region which had no knowledge of the extravagances of the courts, and the gentry of which shared in the people’s parsimonious character, people who were famous for never wasting a thing.
COTECHINO FROM SAN LEO
This product is typical of the area around San Leo: it is prepared exclusively at an artisan level by butchers and charcuteries who will not usually reveal their recipe.
The main ingredients are pancetta (Italian spiced bacon), pork rind, cheek and shoulder. The pieces are minced and seasoned with salt, black pepper and enriched with cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.
The cotechino from San Leo is boiled and served in slices with mashed potatoes, boiled vegetables or other things.
Typical of the area of Fabriano and the mountainous part of the valley of the Esino river, this salami is prepared with the same mixture as that used for soppressata (another type of salami), but with the addition, to the proportion of fifteen per cent, of pigs’ liver and other entrails. The quantity of fat added is around twenty five percent of the quantity of lean meat. This is all minced, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, orange peel and aromas and stuffed into an intestine of small diameter which has been washed and aromatised with hot wine. The salamis, once they have been tied, are left to dry in a cool place and are then stored for maturing. Tradition dictates that this salami is presented on the table to celebrate during Carnival and, in any case, the product must be eaten before summer since it would risk going rancid in the heat.
PROSCIUTTO FROM CARPEGNA
It is of a roundish shape, weighing between eight and ten kilograms (eighteen and twenty two pounds); the meat is pink in colour, the fat, a pinky white and there may be some veining in the internal parts of muscle. The techniques used for its processing, carried out with the help of all the modern technologies, are still strictly related to the traditional ones. The salting, carried out by hand by rubbing over the rind and around the bones, is fundamental for the flavouring of the meat; it is repeated after one week. The maturing lasts on average fourteen months and, after controlling with the special ‘horse-bone needle’, those which correspond to the organoleptic characteristics, are branded with the logo "prosciutto di Carpegna". Today, it is produced from pigs which are reared and butchered in the regions of the Marches, Emilia Romagna and Lombardia, and it has the DOP (Denomination of Protected Origin) guarantee since 1996.
The custom of salting meats in the county of Carpegna is a very ancient one, testified to in an act of 1407 in which the count Guidantonio of Urbino ordered that a market should be held in Monte Cerignone, and prohibited the sale of oxen, ovine, wethers, sheep, pigs and salted meats in any other place. There is also a testimony in a Baroque picture preserved in the parish church of San Leo in Carpegna. The picture depicts the saint Abbot Sant'Antonio together with a prosciutto, in the effort to protect the processes of its production.
SALAMI FROM FABRIANO
This is prepared with the meat taken from the pig’s thigh, cut with the ‘point of the knife’ method, seasoned with salt and pepper then stuffed into casing and left to mature. It is cylindrical in shape, with a weight of three hundred to nine hundred grams (eleven ounces to two pounds); after the maturation period, of between sixty and one hundred and fifty days, it has become hard in texture, rough to the touch and covered with a thin layer of brown-black mould. The meat is compact and even in consistency, it is dark red in colour with white specks of lard and a fine texture. The area of production is that of the municipalities included in the Comunità Montana Alta Valle dell'Esino.
It is also a salami which has its own history. It would seem that between the Sixteen and the Seventeen hundreds, the price of the salami from Fabriano was superior to that of prosciutto (cured ham). The first testimonies about the salami from Fabriano date back to the first half of the Eighteen hundreds. In 1877, the government commissioner Oreste Marcoaldi wrote in a book that “the salami is a speciality of Fabriano, just as mortadella (baloney) is of Bologna and the zampone (stuffed pig’s trotter) is of Modena”. Garibaldi, from Caprera, sent his thanks for the gift of a mixture of finely minced, lean pork with small cubes of lard. Tradition dictates that the meat used is that of the black pigs from the Fabriano hinterland which are very rare nowadays, although some breeders are trying to recuperate the species.
SALAMI FROM MONTEFELTRO
This is very similar to the salami from Fabriano and this too should be prepared with the black-haired, lean pigs which are becoming, however, more and more rare. The processing of this salami differs from that of the Fabriano salami for the larger dose of pepper used, both in whole corns and ground.
SOPPRESSATA FROM FABRIANO
Traditional in the area of Fabriano and its hinterland, the soppressata is prepared with a mixture of lean pork meats which are minced a number of times and to which cubes of lard are added. The mixture is seasoned with salt and pepper and stuffed into veal’s intestine, known as ‘rosetta’. The tradition in the families was to keep it drying in the smoke of the fire place for three or four days to facilitate the maturing process rather than with the aim of giving it a smoky flavour.