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The Royal land of cured meat: Emilia-Romagna

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

The area of Emilia-Romagna reigns first when it comes to cured meats. It's particular topography and seasonal environment make it excellent for curing meat. Look no further than the regal titles conferred upon some of the region's most famous products for proof of their greatness.

Cured meat hanging in the market of Emilia-Romagna

Prosciutto Crudo

Prosciutto Crudo is the favorite of Italian cured meats, delicate, sweet, and rich. It's a must-have on every charcuterie board worth its salt, cut into near-transparent strips of delicate, scarlet meat stained with delectable fat.

Coming to the curing process, there's bound to be some in your prosciutto crudo. This is because the curing procedure begins with covering high-quality pig legs in salt and allowing them to sit for several weeks. Before you worry about the sodium content, consider the two benefits of salting pork: first, it dehydrates the meat and keeps bacteria out, making raw meat safe to consume; second, it enhances the natural aromas. After the salting process is finished, the pork is washed, seasoned, and hung to dry for 14 to 36 months at a temperature that is carefully controlled.

Prosciutto Crudo on a wooden board

Salame Piacentino

This famous cured sausage comes from Piacenza, the westernmost of nine provinces in the Emilia-Romagna area, lying between the Po and the Apennines. It is stated that in the 15th century, traders from neighbouring Lombardy could easily differentiate cured meats from Piacenza amid the plethora of charcuterie delicacies found in Emilia-Romagna.

In reality, the renowned salame Piacentino was widely served in royal residences in Italy, France, and Spain in the early 1700s. The recipe for this delicacy hasn't changed since: coarsely ground pork belly fat and lean meat slices are blended with sugar, salt, pepper, nutmeg, garlic, and finally infused with a high-quality red wine, which intensifies the pleasant aroma of salame Piacentino.

Salami picentino

This deli meat is also known as Capocollo, Lonza, or Lonzino, depending on where it is produced and its characteristics. According to many historical sources, Coppa di Parma has been produced since the late 1600s, when it was known as Bondiola, after the pork intestines (Ita. bondeana) in which the flesh was wrapped.

Coppa di Parma is now manufactured from the perfectly trimmed muscular section of the pig's neck, filled into natural casings, and produced in the Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, and Lombardy regions. Apart from the great quality of lean meat, what distinguishes Coppa and other traditional Po Valley goods is the region's damp atmosphere.

Coppa di parma being cut

Mortadella Bologna is a typical Italian sausage cooked from pig, lardelli (cubes of fat) and selected seasonings. Closely related to the Emilia-Romagna region's pig farming tradition, the origins of mortadella can be traced back to ancient Bologna, specifically the Etruscan city of Felsina and the surrounding areas rich in oak forests, which provided tasty acorns and tubers for the numerous local swine, both wild and domesticated.

The city of Bologna, nicknamed La Grassa (meaning the fat one), is the birthplace of this famous banger, though production takes place throughout central-northern Italy (the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Trento, Marche, Lazio, and Tuscany).

Mortadella Bologna placed on a wooden board along side some bread

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