One of the many trends at this year's Food & Wine Classic was blood sausage, which I spotted everywhere with its inky, dark color, especially at Cochon 555's Grand Cochon. We love the sausage's distinct mellow, earthy-sweet taste, which it takes on when the meat is mixed in with blood. Although it's popular in German, French, English, and Spanish cultures, blood sausage still hasn't fully caught on in the States because of its gory association. How do you feel about it?
Even if you've never heard of guanciale, it's entirely possible that you've eaten it before and never realized it; the cured meat resembles bacon when it's both raw and cooked. But guanciale comes from an entirely different part of the pig.
A specialty of the central Italian regions of Umbria and Lazio, guanciale is pork jowl or pig cheek that's been cured with black pepper, red pepper, or spices. It's softer in texture and less salty than pancetta, but possesses a stronger, fattier taste.
Guanciale's rarely eaten raw; rather, it's well-suited for sautéeing with vegetables, enriching a stew, or boosting the flavor of meat. It's an essential ingredient in several classic Roman pastas, such as spaghetti alla carbonara and bucatini all'amatriciana.
Source: Flickr User thebittenword.com
Tasso (pronounced "tah-so") is a spicy-hot Cajun cured pork. Although it's often referred to as "tasso ham," the use of the word "ham" is technically incorrect, since tasso is made from the shoulder of the pig, not the hind leg.
The pork is salt-cured, then seasoned with cayenne pepper, garlic, filé powder, and other herbs and spices, and hot-smoked for a couple of days. The meat is usually chopped and added to beans, eggs, pastas, collard greens, and Cajun or Creole specialties like jambalaya to add depth of flavor.
Have you tried this Louisiana specialty?
Source: Flickr User tomcensani
At the Fancy Foods Show, I found myself drawn to paper-thin slices of dark, purple-hued cured meat. I quickly learned that the ultratender, sweet meat was something called bresaola, also known as beef prosciutto. Bresaola is an air-cured, spiced, and salted cut of beef that is aged for several months. The cut comes from the hind leg of the animal and is best served thinly sliced as an antipasto. While the beef cut (usually the eye of round) is very tender, unlike prosciutto, it's extremely lean and has no visible fat. Valtellina, the Alpine valley in Lombardy where bresaola was first conceived, is a protected geographical indication; those made in the same style outside Valtellina are often labeled "viande séchee" instead. The most popular way to serve bresaola is sliced on its own as an appetizer. It is often drizzled with olive oil or vinegar in the style of beef carpaccio, or served on top of salads and pizza. Have you ever tried bresaola?
Source: Flickr User snowpea&bokchoi
Both PartySugar and I are fiends for cured meats as well as suckers for anything mini — so you can imagine our reactions when we opened up a parcel that was filled with pocket-sized packs of Hormel Pepperoni Minis! I stepped out to run an errand, but Party confessed she couldn't wait for me to get back to break into them. Were they as delicious as they were tempting? Find out when you keep reading
An Italian cured, smoked meat native to the Alto Adige, a region that straddles Northern Italy and Southern Austria. To make speck, a boned pork leg is cured in salt, and spices like laurel and juniper, then intermittently slow-smoked, using pine or juniper wood for several months.
Deep red in color with heavily marbled traces of fat, speck is served thinly sliced as an appetizer, or used in to flavor cooked dishes.
Note that speck from Alto Adige or Tyrol, which enjoys a protected designation of origin, should not be confused with the German usage of the word, which refers to lard.
Source: Flickr User dags1974
With cured meats making a comeback, it's common to see charcuterie and salumi platters on restaurant menus across the country. But are charcuterie and salumi the same thing? What about salumi and salami?
While charcuterie and salumi share many similarities — both are cured meats, and both maximize the use of every part of the animal — they're not the same thing. Charcuterie, a French term, typically refers to cooked meats such as pâtés. The Italian equivalent of charcuterie is referred to as affettati, while salumi generally refers to salted and dry-cured meats. Salame (plural is salami) is a cured sausage made from ground pork, and is a type of salumi.
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Given that some say we're in the middle of a food revolution, and local, sustainable, home-grown produce is popping up everywhere, it's only logical that an uptick in home preserving will happen, too. Enter Karen Solomon's Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It, a new book that's focused on making your own artisanal food products, either to keep or to give as gifts. The tome isn't simply limited to fruit jellies and quick pickles — it also includes instructions on making everything from flatbread to watermelon Popsicles to chai tea. But did it live up to its high expectations? Find out when you read more
I've long been a fan of local talent Chris Cosentino and his offal-inspired Italian restaurant, Incanto. So when news, well, spread last month that Cosentino's salumeria Boccalone Artisan Meats was debuting the first spreadable salame — Nduja, as it's called — to be produced in the States, I knew I had to get my hands on some right away. Did the salumi live up to all its wonderment? Find out when you read more
With double-meat sandwiches, it is important to tread carefully. So for this indulgent combination of marinated chicken and cured meat, I gathered exceptionally gourmet ingredients: Point Reyes blue cheese, capocolla (aka coppa) from Chris Cosentino's Boccalone deli, and organic chicken thighs. Since I was piling meat upon meat with creamy cheese, I made extra-small sandwiches using soft but firm dinner rolls.
Somewhere between salami and pancetta in terms of flavor, the capocolla adds a bacon-y bite, so the resulting cap-and-cheese-laden creation is reminiscent of a bacon cheeseburger without the beef. Using chicken thighs and a nutty, salty marinade adds to the heartiness, while the sautéed mushrooms and tomato help temper the richness. To get the recipe for this double-meat delicacy, read more