There are writings dating back to 1719 mentioning the production of “Soppressata” in Southern Italy.
Although there are many types and variations on the name, the “Soppressata di Calabria” is the only Soppressata to have achieved DOP status. DOP certification specifies, among other things, that the pigs used must be born in a region of Calabria, Basilicata, Sicily, Puglia or Campania. They must be a native breed, and their diet can consist of no less than 50% of either barley, fava beans, corn, acorns, or peas. The salame is traditionally pressed and flattened early in the drying phase to give it its characteristic oblong shape. The curing time is specified as “40 days”.
I skipped the pressing because I’m not trying to achieve DOP status; however, after almost a month in the curing chamber I decided I couldn’t wait any longer to test out the Soppressata Picante! I cut into it this weekend – the flavor and amount of pepper heat was near perfect. The only problem was that the salame wasn’t quite dry enough for my liking. Although it lost over 35% of its “green” weight, it will take at least another two weeks in the curing chamber at 55°/70% humidity to firm up to a proper consistency. I’m sure the larger diameter salame (pictured above) needs another month or more before it’s ready. I have no idea why the rule of thumb is always 30-35% weight loss, I think at that point they are just way too soft. Before I started making my own salame, I would often buy them from places like Calabria Pork Store a bit on the “soft” side and dry them out at home for a few weeks by just hanging them in my kitchen. Having eaten all kinds of salame at different stages of drying, I’ve come to the conclusion the best way to tell if they are ready is by feel rather than weight.
Here’s my Soppressata Piccante recipe:
- 2270g Pork Shoulder
- 400g Pork Fat (fatback)
- 44g Salt
- 13.5g Glucose
- 7g Cure #2
- 2.8g White Pepper (ground)
- 4g Black Pepper (whole)
- 50ml Red Wine (I used 100% Sangiovese)
- 10g Peperoncino Rosso Di Sicilia (ground)
- 2g Peperoncino Di Calabria (ground)
- 7g Red Pepper Flakes (US)
- 9g Paprika
- B-LC-007 Starter Culture
I ground the dried peppers and mixed most of the ingredients (minus the starter culture) then cut and trimmed the pork shoulder into small cubes that fit easily into my meat grinder. I trim my pork shoulder fairly lean so it’s easier to regulate the fat percentage later with the addition of the fatback. It’s very important that the meat be kept cold at all times during the salame making process so it’s best to partially freeze the meat and fat after cutting and before grinding. On previous batches I have used a slightly more course 9.5mm grinding die that I purchased on Ebay; however, for this recipe I used the large die from the KitchenAid Mixer grinder attachment to grind both the meat and the fat.
I then cooled the ground meat mixture again, and when it was cold enough, mixed in the spices and vino. The starter culture was added last, and I stuffed the mix into 55-60mm natural beef middles after I made one large salame using a 4.5 inch beef bung cap from Butcher & Packer.
I have to say the beef bungs are not so pleasant looking and are a royal pain to tie because of their irregular shape, but they make quite a nice large diameter salame! Plus they are “naturally closed” at one end already which does make things a bit easier; however, they need to be stuffed very well to prevent air pockets! After tying and pricking to remove any small air pockets, the Soppressata’s were fermented at 75° and 90% humidity for 48 hours. Then the temperature was reduced to 55° for curing at 70% humidity.
I dipped the salame in Mold 600 Bactoferm and within a few days a nice white mold started to form on everything. Curing time for the smaller Soppressata Piccante’s is about 6 weeks.