Today we’re talking about capers from Pantelleria, tiny but very rich in flavour. But there’s more, we’ll also discover caper berries, caper leaves and the caper production farm that brings Pantelleria’s tradition to the world. Ready to go?
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Ciauscolo & Co: cold cuts from the Marche
That of Italian cold cuts is a world worth diving into. Each region offers plenty of cold cut and cured meat specialties, embodying the craftsmanship and traditional local gastronomy.
The region Marche is, for instance, home to some of the best Italian cold cuts. Ciauscolo and Fabriano salami are the most famous ones, which are still made like they used to. It is important to raise awareness about these products, in order to better protect and promote them. That isn’t that hard to do, to be honest, since they are truly mouth-watering!
Ciauscolo is the most famous salami from the Marche. It has a melt-in-mouth texture, a sapid flavour, which is however not pungent, and a delicate scent – this salami is a true gem. Upon cutting, the meat is even, pink and with no visible fat, since it is fine-grained.
Ciauscolo obtained the European label “Protected Geographical Indication” in 2009 and it has not stopped gaining popularity since then. In 2019, production reached 600 tons.
Only Ciauscolo made in the provinces of Ancona, Macerata, Fermo and Ascoli Piceno can obtain the PGI label; relevant product specification states that only the meat of Italian pigs of the Duroc, Landrace and Large White breeds can be used to make this salami.
How did Ciauscolo originate? The name says it all; the term Ciauscolo comes from the Latin word cibusculum which means small food, snack. It was a cibusculum for peasants and day labourers who used to eat Ciauscolo with bread during mid-morning breaks.
Moreover, it is a creamy and spreadable salami, meaning pure pleasure. The main feature of this salami is its softness which makes it unique and one of a kind.
It ages for at least 15 days, but the consistency stays soft, thanks to the special meat cuts used for this salami: shoulder, belly, pork jowl and ham trimmings.
The meat is flavoured with salt, pepper, garlic, wine and sometimes, wild fennel and rosemary; then it is very finely ground twice. After being filled in natural casings, Ciauscolo is left to age in rooms with a temperature ranging from 8 to 18 °C and a humidity level between 60 and 85%.
Ciauscolo is still handmade. Fine-ground, with the right fat to lean ratio and left to rest in very humid places – these are the keys to its creaminess.
Ciauscolo tastes amazing on a slice of bread and it is also ideal to make sauces and tasty starters.
Pairing cold cuts with cheeses is nothing new, but we can make it all the more interesting, by matching products coming from the same region. Ciauscolo, which is soft and enveloping, pairs really well with both fresh and creamy cheeses, such as Raviggiolo delle Marche, and with aged and intense cheeses, such as the delicious Pecorino dei Monti Sibillini.
Its soft consistency makes it ideal for sauces. Tagliatelle with Ciauscolo Ragù are delicious, and so are Ravioli with a filling of Ciauscolo, Ricotta cheese and nutmeg.
It is pure pleasure with Focaccia bread or Panzerotto. It is also delicious with fried bread dough: Ciauscolo being creamy, it creates a very pleasant contrast with the crunchy, fried bread.
Fabriano Salami is the most refined cold cut from the Marche, since it is made from the best pork cut: the ham.
Its origins are unclear, but we do know for a fact that this salami was Fabriano’s top specialty in 1877. Oreste Marcoaldi, a writer from the Marche, actually wrote that “salami belongs to Fabriano, in the same way that Mortadella belongs to Bologna and Zampone (ham hock) to Modena.”
Giuseppe Garibaldi wrote a letter to his friend from Fabriano Benigno Bignonzetti, thanking him for his “gift of delicious salami.” It was the year 1881, but this salami from Fabriano is still as delicious today as it was back then.
What’s so special about this salami? First of all, the meat: only pigs that are at least 12 months old, born in Italy and raised in the Umbria-Marche Apennines without any GMOs. Then, the meat cuts: the pork leg is the main cut, then the lean meat from the shoulder and the fat covering the leg, amounting to maximum 5% of the total mixture. As far as fat cubes are concerned, fat cannot exceed 12% of total weight and only diced fatback – the most delicious lard – is used.
The mixture is flavoured and ground; fat is only added at the end, since it should not be minced. After being filled in natural casings, the salami is left to dry in hot rooms for 7 to 15 days. Then it’s time to age, for minimum 40 days to maximum 60 days.
Fabriano salami is a seasonal product; it is only made from October to March, since the heat could compromise the salami’s aging process.
The flavour of this salami is unique and unforgettable. The meat is compact and firm, deep red with evenly spread fat cubes. Its scent is enveloping and lost lasting; its flavour is sweet and refined.
Fabriano Salami is a must at Easter time. It pairs exceptionally well with pizza cascio e oe (a sort of savoury, soft bread with cheese and eggs), the former being soft and tender and the latter being firmer. The cherry on top would be a glass of Verdicchio di Matelica.
One slice of bread is all you need to create an amazing food pairing with Fabriano Salami; try it with a medium-aged cheese, such as Casciotta d’Urbino that comes from the same area, too. For an original starter, try diced salami with green olives and sweet-and-sour bell peppers or artichokes packed in oil.
Fabriano Salami and Ciauscolo are just two examples of the delicacies that the region Marche has to offer. This territory, enclosed between the Apennines and the Adriatic Sea, is actually home to many products worth tasting. We cannot wait to discover them all!
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