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The Perfect Cure

Delicious Italian-style cured meats made in the USA

Fine Cooking Issue 85
Photos: Scott Phillips
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The centuries-old Italian art of salt-curing and air-drying meats and sausages to make salumi (Italian-style cold cuts) is taking the United States by storm. Chefs from coast to coast are adding house-cured salumi plates to their menus, and a growing number of artisans are making high-quality salumi— including prosciutto, mortadella, and a variety of salami—right here in the U.S. We’re featuring a few great examples of these domestic salumi here. We also spoke to a young couple in San Francisco who’s selling their terrific salumi at local farmers’ markets.

A soppressata like no other

Fra’Mani’s soppressata, modeled after northern Italy’s soppressa vicentina, which is larger and more delicate in flavor than most soppressatas, won us over with its moist texture, full pork flavor, and well-balanced spiciness with hints of clove. Slice it as thinly as possible for your salumi platter. Fra’Mani also offers four other kinds of dry salami—all delicious—and a selection of fresh sausages. Fra’Mani soppressata, $210 for 9 pounds (including shipping) at FraMani.com. Fra’Mani salumi are also available sliced to order at some specialty stores.

Salumi, Salame, Salami?

No, they’re not typos. There really is a difference:

  • Salumi is the Italian word for a variety of salt-cured, air-dried meats, usually made with pork.
  • Salami are cured sausages; they’re just one type of salumi.
  • Salame is simply the singular of salami.

Smoked prosciutto, sliced & ready to eat

La Quercia, in Iowa, makes our favorite domestic prosciutto, so we were delighted to find that it also makes fantastic speck, which is smoked prosciutto. It has a mild smoky flavor that complements the prosciutto’s natural sweetness. We’re also partial to its tender, silky texture and nice chew. Speck Americano, $69 for six 3-ounce packages, and Prosciutto Americano, $65 for six 3-ounce packages at LaQuercia.us. Whole Foods Markets and some specialty stores carry both.

Salame with a twist

This mole salame made by Armandino Batali (Mario Batali’s father) in his salumi shop in Seattle intrigued us with its unusual flavors. Spiced with typical Mexican mole ingredients, including chocolate, cinnamon, ancho, and chipotle peppers, it becomes more nuanced with each bite, finishing with a nice spicy kick. Along with regular pancetta and salami, the store offers several other untraditional salumi, including a lamb prosciutto. Mole salame, $10.80 a pound at SalumiCuredMeats.com.

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