When you’re in a delicatessen, and are invaded by all sorts of names and brands, how do you know which one to buy? Most of the deli meats are in Italian, meaning they are deli meats cooked with Italian flair, and how would you know which one is the perfect meat for the meal that you intend to prepare?
Getting lost within an Italian food shop is a natural occurrence, especially if it’s your first time. Here is a guide to show you the different kinds of Italian deli meat, and how to shop like a pro.
Prosciutto is dry cured ham and is usually sliced in a very thin manner. This deli meat is cured for 10 months in a temperature controlled room starting from the dry winter to the moist months in the spring.
The ham becomes drier as the healing process progresses. The slow curing process makes the flavor more intense.
How do you shop for a prosciutto?
Prosciutto can be purchased at the pre-sliced section or you can order it to be sliced thinly and almost transparent. There are two ways to distinguish a prosciutto: it can be uncooked (prosciutto crudo) or cooked (prosciutto cotto).
Remember that this kind of meat is very flavorful and would only need a few per serving. It is also used as a garnish to some pasta dishes.
Speck, or smoked prosciutto, is an even tastier version of prosciutto, and is salt and smoked, cured with a lot of spices, mostly juniper berries. When speck is cured, the bone is removed from the ham, and smoked with hickory for 2 days. Then, the ham is dry cured for another five months.
The bone of the ham is removed before the start of the curing process that is why the process is shorter. This is why speck has a unique smoked, spicy and sweet flavor all in one.
How do you shop for speck?
Buying speck is in the same manner as buying prosciutto. Thinner slices are best and only a few slices can do per serving.
Mortadella is a large heat cured sausage that is made from pieces of ground up pork. Pork fat is incorporated into the mixture. This sausage is salty and well-spiced. That’s why this sausage is fragrant and the aroma is incredible.
How to shop for mortadella?
Since this deli meat is fragrant, you must consume this meat as soon as possible. You can also find them pre-sliced or order them sliced as thinly as possible without holes.
Capocollo is cured pork shoulder and done in the same way that is made with ham. The main spice used for this meat is pepper. This is a cold cut that can be called Coppa.
How to shop for capocollo?
Be sure to specify what kind of capocollo you want to get. This deli meat comes in variants of mild, hot and extra hot. You can also have it in extra lean.
Italian salami is made of chopped up pork and ground up to create a large sausage that is definitely tasty. There are several kinds, depending on the size, flavor, and the type of spices that were used.
One type of salami is Genoa, which is medium sized. Sopressanta and Calabrese have a course ground meat. It is oval or oblong shapes and are larger than other sausages. Casalingo is smaller in size, while the Cacciatore is a small sized salami, but still has course meats and firm in texture.
How do you shop for Italian Salami?
Before ordering, make sure that the salami that you are ordering is the type that you specifically need. Make sure that you are familiar with the types of salami, and instruct that the sausage is thinly sliced.
Pancetta is Italian cured bacon. The meat used is pork belly, and is rolled and cured for 50 days. Pancetta is also richly spiced and salted.
How do you shop for pancetta?
Pancetta is mostly available pre-cut at the deli. Unlike the prosciutto, this meat is not as richly flavored and can be consumed in big portions.
Places like Walmart and Whole Foods offer a great selection of Italian deli meat. Make sure that you know how to differentiate the meats, take note of their nutritional value, and learn how they are stored.
Shopping for Italian meat could be an adventure. Cooking and experimenting with different flavors of Italian deli meat is a great learning experience that should start with the basics. Once you know how to differentiate the meats, you’ve already half way in your journey.