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Italian Meats

Many Italian traditions are tied in with food. Everyone knows about Italian pasta, but what many don't have a real understanding of is Italian meats. Following are brief descriptions and a little history of Prosciutto, Pancetta, Sopressata, Capicola and Salami. Buon appetito!


Described by many Italians as the "king of meats," prosciutto is an historic Italian delicacy that dace back to the 12 Century. It is a type of aged ham, with a sweet-and-salty flavor and aroma. It is often eaten simply, allowing its flavor to show through, on crusty bread or with pears, figs or melons. However, it can also be an amazing addition when cooked and combined with pasta, pizza or salad, and is a key ingredient to Saltimbocca.


Pancetta is often described as "Italian bacon," but pancetta is usually not smoked. It usually comes rolled into a salami-like shape. It can be pan fried or oven roasted (also like bacon), although it requires less cooking time, due to its dry-air aging. Pancetta is a key ingredient in Carbonarra, although it is also often included in salada, frittatas, omelets or pizza.


Typical of the traditional, hand-cut salami of old-world kitchens, Sopressata is made from coarshely ground cuts of pork that are slowly and naturally aged. It is often served with a hearty cheese, like Provolone, or just as delicious in a Panini with melted cheese and sliced tomatoes.


This meat is made from slow-roasted pork shoulder, then coated on the outside with paprika and other spices. It is commonly served in sandwiches, with melted Fontina or an aged Provolone, or even marinated roasted peppers. In cooked dishes, Capicola adds great flavor to steamed vegetables, in pasta or pizza sauce.


Like Sopressata, but the cuts of pork are more finely ground, spiced more sweetly, and naturally aged. Like Prosciutto, it is often eaten simply, allowing its flavor to show through, on crusty bread with cheese and sliced tomato, or ground and included in pasta sauces.

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     food·ie (fd)
     noun. Slang.  A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet.