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There’s something about Italian meat that just can’t be replicated. Whether you like sausage, salami, or pepperoni on your pizza, odds are you’ve already experienced some of the deliciousness of Italian cured meat.
But you may not have tried soppressata: a distinct type of Italian salami made from fermented and dried sausage. This specialty meat comes primarily from Calabria, a region in southwestern Italy. Today, soppressata is more popular than ever around the world.
Not sure whether you like soppressata or whether you should use it in your recipes? Let’s break down soppressata in more detail and expand everything you need to know about this fine cured meat.
How is Soppressata Made?
As a type of salami, soppressata is made of lean or fat and cut or minced pork. The key requirement for soppressata is pre-seasoning the pork with a variety of additives, such as dried chili peppers, black peppercorn, salt, and even red wine.
The red wine specifically adds a noteworthy flavor to the soppressata that can’t be matched anywhere else. Meanwhile, the black peppercorn and dried chili peppers give each slice of soppressata warmth rather than making it overly hot or spicy.
While the above flavor mixture is standard, many southern Italian kitchens have their own soppressata flavor varieties or recipes that can make soppressata slices taste differently from place to place. The name “soppressata” comes from the flattened and oblong shape of the salami from which it is made.
To create soppressata, the salami is pressed between very heavy weights for a few days, then hung out to thoroughly dry for between two and six months depending on the maker’s recipe.
In some situations, some Italian families may create soppressata from ham if they don’t want to use the ham for anything else. However, “legitimate” soppressata is made purposefully from scratch rather than co-opting pre-sliced meat from other sources.
As you can see, making soppressata is an intense process. That’s just one reason why many Italian butchers or soppressata makers take a lot of pride in their meat! Unlike other types of salami-mimics, such as vegan salami, soppressata is the real deal.
Soppressata Varieties and Flavors
There are lots of different soppressata varieties depending on where it is made and the exact ingredients used in the curing process.
For example, soppressata di Basilicata is made in the regions of Vaglio, Lagonegro, Rivello, and Cancellara. This particular type of soppressata is actually protected legally – you can’t say that your meat is soppressata di Basilicata unless it is made in those regions, just like champagne has to be made in a specific region in France.
There’s also soppressata Toscana, which is naturally soppressata from Tuscany. This is made from many of the leftover parts of a slaughtered pig, which is great for individuals who want to make sure they don’t leave anything to waste. The pig’s head is boiled for several hours and the meat is removed afterward.
All of the meat is stuffed into a large sausage casing and bound together when cooking liquid is poured over the mixture. This makes soppressata Toscana similar to Polish salceson and some other meats found around the world.
Lastly, you might also like soppressata Venata, which is soppressata made by pressing salami between two planks of wood. The resulting salami is very straight and flat relative to other varieties. This is one of the most popular types of soppressata around the world, so you may find it frequently at international markets are grocery stores that have foreign meat sections.
Regardless, all soppressata types maintain the same basic flavor profile. But you might end up preferring one or the other because of how the meat hits your taste buds or how well it integrates with other foods and ingredients in your kitchen.
How Should You Store Soppressata?
No matter which type of soppressata you end up favoring, it’s important to know how to store the cured meat properly so you can enjoy it for weeks or months to come.
Naturally, you can freeze soppressata, but this is never recommended as it may eliminate some of the savory flavors of the cured meat. Instead, you should wrap soppressata in parchment paper after it has been sliced, then store the soppressata in your refrigerator for about three weeks.
While the soppressata will dry out, wrapping it in parchment paper will keep it fresh and allow it to last for longer without losing too much of its natural moisture. Of course, as with any cured meat, the best thing to do is to eat soppressata as soon as possible; for the best results, order your soppressata for your meals or sandwiches shortly before you intend to consume it.
It’s not recommended that you leave soppressata out for very long. Even though it is cured, it will quickly dry and attract the attention of insects.
What Can You Use Soppressata In?
Sure, soppressata might be very tasty – but what are you supposed to use it for, exactly? Due to its versatile flavor profile, soppressata is a fantastic salami choice for casual meals or foods.
For example, you can use soppressata as a topping for your pizza in place of pepperoni or even alongside other types of meat. Alternatively, you can make your own homemade focaccia and incorporate pieces of soppressata into the dough for a delicious Italian recipe.
Naturally, many people will want to use soppressata as a sandwich filling. “Regular” salami is a staple sandwich ingredient in America and Italy, and you can easily use soppressata for the same purpose. Combine it with cheese and a few vegetables for a full meal.
Lastly, you may also wish to use soppressata as a part of a charcuterie board: a platter of meats and cheeses designed to go alongside wine or to be served as a snack for guests when they come to your home. Ultimately, the sky’s the limit when it comes to soppressata.
Now that you know what soppressata is and how it’s made, you should order some for your own kitchen and start experimenting with this delicious salami variety today!