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Mortadella is a large cold cut made of finely hashed or ground, heat-cured pork sausage, which incorporates at least 15% small cubes of pork fat. It’s delicately flavored with spices, and it could have pistachios in it (in some other Countries it could have other things in it, but in Italy the real choice is mortadella with pistachios or without them).
The name mortadella could came from the mortar (mortaio/mortadella) used to ground to a paste the pork filling, but it could get its name from a Roman sausage flavored with myrtle (in Italian mirto) in place of pepper (the latin name was farcimen mirtatum, aka myrtle sausage).
Mortadella originated in Bologna and here it has a PGI status under European Union Law. The zone of production is extensive, though: as well as Emilia-Romagna and the neighbouring regions of Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Marche and Tuscany, it includes Lazio and Trentino.
You can eat mortadella in thin slices (perfect for sandwiches), or in little cubes (perfect as an appetizer), but it can be used for fresh pasta filling or it can be fried.
You can find mortadella in these recipes
Prosciutto cotto (cooked ham) is an Italian cold cut produced from pork legs boned, salted and cooked.
You can find prosciutto cotto in these recipe:
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Prosciutto crudo (raw ham) is an Italian cold cut. It’s made with dry-cured pork legs processed with a mixture containing salt and other ingredients, often with a percentage of nitrates and nitrites as preservatives. Then it’s left to dry (the word prosciutto, in fact, came from the Latin “perexsuctum“ meaning “dried up“) and age. This process could take from nine months to two years.
The most renowned and expensive legs of prosciutto come from central and northern Italy, such as those of Parma in Emilia Romagna region, and San Daniele in Friuli Venezia Giulia region. Some local prosciutto crudo, including these two, are PDOs.
Thin slices of prosciutto crudo in Italian cuisine are often served as an appetizer, wrapped around grissini, accompanied with melon, or together with other cold cuts in a cold cuts and cheeses tagliere (cutting board). It also can be used as a topping for pizza or in sandwiches and/or piadine. It could also be used in pasta sauces, in quiches filling or in vegetable stuffings, sliced or diced.
You can find prosciutto crudo in these recipes:
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Speck is a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) cured meat typical of the Alto Adige region in Italy.
Speck is the result of the union of the two methods for preserving meat: seasoning, (typical of the Mediterranean Countries), and smoking (typical of northern Europeans Countries). Speck combines these two methods, and it’s produced according to the rule “a little salt, a little smoke and lot of fresh air“.
The production consists in five phases:
- Selection of raw materials.
- Seasoning with salt, pepper, juniper, rosemary and bay leaves.
- Aging. It ages approximately 22 weeks; during this phase a layer of naturally aromatic mold forms on the speck, but it will be removed at the end of the process. This mold rounds off the taste of speck and prevents it from drying out too much.
- Controls and quality marks. Speck is marked on the rind in 4 different points with the appropriate seal.
In the South Tyrolean traditional speck was the food consumed by farmers and it was a source of energy while working in the fields. Over time it has also become the guest star of banquets for celebrations and for welcome ceremonies. This latter function has been passed down to the present day: speck, along with black bread and wine or beer, is a key element of the typical “snack” in Alto Adige, consumed and offered as a symbol of hospitality (Brettljause in South Tyrol, merendar in South Tyrol). It consists of a platter with speck, sausages, cheese and pickled cucumbers, accompanied by bread and wine.
Speck is eaten nature, finely sliced, it can be used to make tasty sandwiches (especially in combination with brie cheese), but it can also be chopped in little cubes and used in cooking.
You can find speck in these recipes: