Sausages and salamis
Like all regions of the Po valley, which are strong in the production of milk products and by-products, the Veneto also is very much involved in the rearing of cattle and swine, which are destined to supply a developed sausage and salami industry. These products have a perfect seasoning environment in the area of the Berici and Euganean Hills. This has led to a true tradition of ham production of the so called prosciutto berico, which is managed and controlled by its own consortium. The variety of sausages, which differ based on the area of origin, preparation process, and ingredients in connection with the specific environment, is also well known. In the mountains, in the Cadore and around the area of Asiago, apart from the use of pork meat, other kinds of sausages can be found made from meats such as roe deer, chamois, and even goat. In the rural zones of the plains, where the damp climate makes the seasoning process difficult, certain meat products are smoked in order to guarantee a better conservation.
BONDIOLA AFFUMICATA (Smoked ‘Bondiola’ sausage)
These are sausages typical of the Lower Po delta (the area between the Po river and the Adige), and are especially traditional in the areas of Ariano, Taglio di Po, and Porto Tolle. They are made from roughly minced pork meat, which is mixed with salt and pepper, stuffed in pig’s bladder and hung for drying. This is a product that is consumed fresh, boiled slowly for four hours. It is served as a main course, accompanied by mashed potatoes or cooked vegetables.
BONDIOLA DI TREVISO (‘Bondiola’ sausage of Treviso)
This sausage has the same characteristics as the cotechino (a fresh pork sausage) or the musetto , and is made from a mixture of fatty and lean pork meat, including the bacon rind which is finely ground, and parts of the pork head. The meat is seasoned and stuffed into natural intestine. One type is made with lingual, that is, with an entire piece of brined pig’s tongue in the centre of it.
This sausage is slowly boiled and served as a main course together with cooked vegetables or mashed potatoes.
LUGANEGA DI TREVISO (‘Luganega’ sausage of Treviso)
The family of this particular sausage is numerous. There is a rice luganega, which is made specially to be used with a risotto or rice dish. It is a mixture of pounded pig’s bacon, seasoned with a typical dose of Treviso spices, a mixture of pepper, two types of cinnamon (Regina and Goa), clove pepper, nutmeg, mace, and coriander. There are different types of luganega which utilize other parts of the animal, and also chicken livers and gizzards. The latter are called salsicce de rosto, and are grilled.
The rice luganega is used in the preparation of risotto, which in the Veneto area is never dry and compact, but more like a very thick type of soup. While it is cooking, the pieces of luganega sausage must dissolve and season the rice. Some cooks add a piece of raw luganega after half of the cooking time, which thus does not completely dissolve, and is served whole in the centre of the dish, surrounded by the rice.
PROSCIUTTO BERICO-EUGANEO (Prosciutto ham from the Berici and Euganean Hills )
The precise area in which the pig’s leg (including thigh) is transformed into the prosciutto berico-euganeo is in the Po valley and flatlands at the foot of the Berici and Euganean Hills in the provinces of Padua, Vicenza, and Verona. Altogether, there are fourteen specific communities, amongst which the better known are Montagnana, Este, Noventa, Vicentina, Lonigo, and Barbarano Vicentino. However the pig’s legs used to make this special ham can come from a more ample area which comprises the Veneto, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, and Lazio.
The meat is delivered to the prosciuttifici, where the prosciutto is made following a traditional procedure of preparation, salting, and seasoning. The making process of the prosciutto berico-euganeo is halfway between that used to make the Parma and the San Daniele prosciutto. It is partially pressed, so it is more pressed than the Parma prosciutto, but less so than the one from San Daniele. The weight, after the seasoning process is completed, is between eight to eleven kilograms (seventeen to twenty four pounds). The prosciutto is hung from a cord pulled through a hole at the end of the leg. Ripening is carried out in relation to the weight and the salting time.
This ham is mainly used as an antipasto or appetizer, either on its own or together with melon or figs during the summer season. But it also can be found used as a filling ingredient for ravioli and tortelli, or to enrich pasta sauces.
SOPPRESSA DEL PASUBIO (‘Soppressa’ salami from the Pasubio )
Along the slopes of the Pasubio, swine are reared almost wild or in a natural state. Their feed is based mainly on chestnuts and potatoes. Thus, their meat acquires an unmistakable and particular taste. The meat mixture is roughly minced and mixed with salt, pepper, and garlic and is then left to soak in red wine.
When it is ready, the soppressa is hung in the cellar to season and is left there for almost a year. The cellar must be fresh and dry to avoid the formation of green mould, which destroys the ageing process. After a correct ripening period, the sopressa should be covered by a light layer of white mould.
This sausage is considered the protagonist of all cold meat antipasti, but it can also be cut into thick slices, and served together with polenta crostini, a type of local, grilled corn meal cake, as a main dish.