Salame (s) or salami (p), like cheese, is a product that requires a select few ingredients. Traditionally salami depended on the simple combination of: protein, fat, salt and fermentation. Salami producers used wines, vinegars or the natural yeasts, to ferment their salami. These are still common ingredients, but the introduction of starter cultures, dextrose, nitrites and nitrates has allowed for safe and consistent products. Still, the skill of making a great salame is the result of selecting a superior product, proper handling of the product and technique. These limiting factors put emphasis on the quality of the raw ingredients and the producer’s technique. Aside from personal preferences for certain styles or seasoning, the essential attribute of a salame is its texture.
While there are subjective factors in determining the quality of any product, here are some objective factors used to determine the quality of salame:
1. The distinction between the meat and the fat should be easily distinguished, with the deep colored proteins separate from the fat.
2. The lean meats should be free of interstitial tissue or fascia (muscle sheathing).
3. The final product should be firm, supple, easily cut without tearing and silky on the palate.
Clearly, the quality if the meat is important. Anti-biotic and hormone free, slow growing animals, produce distinct products. With salamis the quality of the fat is especially important. Most recipes will specify the hard back fat as the most desirable addition to the lean meats. What the animals eat affects the type of fat it produces. The fats of a salame should melt in your mouth without leaving a fatty film in your mouth.
Subjective factors come into play when choosing what salame you may prefer. The genoa salame has finely cut fat and protein compared to the sopressata with its larger and more irregular cuts. Some salamis are spice forward, like the finnochiona and toscano, or the spicy sopressatta and Spanish chorizos. Some salamis are more meat forward, such as, the felino or crespone. Always, the quality of the product remains tied to: the animals, the salumiere’s attention to detail and the technique.
Give us a call to talk about the salamis we currently carry, or check out the selection and descriptions in our on-line catalog.