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Finocchiona is a superbly spiced meat, and one of the best pork products in Tuscany, Italy. The scented and softer salami is a centuries-old product, and unique in that it includes wild fennel seeds giving it an additional ‘zing’. Finnochio in Italian means “fennel.” Depending on the size of the sausage, aging period of the meat ranges from five months to a year. There is a younger version of the sausage, finocchiona sbriciolona, that is aged a mere one to two months, lending the texture less firm and less dense.
There are a couple different origin stories of Finnocchiona
Some say that due to the higher price of pepper in the Middle Ages, fennel seed seasoning was born out of necessity in the Chianti region and in Florence as a thrifty alternative. Others claim a more fantastical anecdotal origin. Legend has it that a thief stole a fresh salami from a festive fair near the town of Prato, and hid the treasure among a stand of wild fennel. Once the thief returned to the scene of the salami crime, he noticed that the meat absorbed the delicious flavors and aroma of the wild fennel!
The finocchiona was a huge hit among the public as early as the fifteenth century.
Even the nobility was said to have enjoyed the salami, among them the prestigious Machiavelli! Resourceful and crafty Chianti winemakers took advantage of the salami’s notable amounts of fennel for its menthol content. The menthol provided slightly anesthetic qualities and masked the taste of poorer quality wines.
Ingredients have expanded far beyond meat, salt, and fennel. Similar to our products, many meat cutters add garlic, pepper, thyme, and sesame seed. On the east coast of the United States, salami makers tend to use more spices than their European counterparts. In North America, many mistake fennel with anise. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of United Nations, India produces more fennel than any two countries. Mexico produces the second most fennel after India, and Mexicans use fennel more per capita.
Our finocchiona is called the Flagrant Seed
Do you like fennel or anise in your cooking? Let us know!
[English: shahr-koo-tuh–ree, shahr-koo-tuh-ree; French shar-kytuh–ree]
As Salami makers, we deal with the term “charcuterie” on a regular basis. If you are among the many who ask, “where does this word comes from?” … We have the answer! Buckle up your seat belts, we are going back in history.
The meaning of the word “charcuterie” remains flexible depending on the community you ask! To the food scholars and historians, it is a word that references the French culinary art from the 15th century. Derived from the French words chair “meat” and cuit “cooked,” it is the branch of culinary design that focuses on preparing various meats like air-dried sausage, prosciutto, ham, bacon, galantines, ballotines, pates, and confit, mainly from pork. The encyclopedia of gastronomy Larousse Gastronomique defines it as: “The art of preparing various meats, in particular pork, in order to present them in the most diverse ways.”
Before the development of refrigeration methods, charcuterie was meant to keep meat products from spoiling. Today, people simply relish the preparation method’s unique flavors due to the preservation processes. The process dates all the way back to the first century AD, when the Greek philosopher Strabo first documented salted meat imports from Gaul. The Romans created laws maintaining the proper production of pork joints, and may have been the first to regulate trade of charcuterie. The French word “charcutier” is used for a person who prepares charcuterie, and the rough English translation is “pork butcher.”
To urban shoppers and Europeans, charcuterie is the delicatessen-themed shop where air-dried sausages and cured meats are created and sold. To culinary arts students around the globe, it is a necessary course to learn the preparation methods of pates, terrines, and sausages. To the home cook, charcuterie is an easy party platter, picnic staple, or gourmet kitchen display. To the restaurant cooks and servers, charcuterie is an easily assembled and delivered appetizer. To today’s ‘foodie,’ charcuterie is the trendy meal customarily served using thin slicing techniques and very basic accompaniments like bread, cornichons, olives, and mustard, perfect for those minimalist photo selfies on Instagram.
What combinations of cheese, meat, fruit, and nuts do you enjoy when thinking about charcuterie? Let us know in the comments. I like anything with grapefruit!
If you are craving salami you are most likely imaging soppressata, even if you have never heard of the term “soppressata.” Soppressata is hands down the most popular type of salami out there, but where exactly does it come from? We decided to take a stab at answering this question and more.
Among the repertoire of Italian cured meats, more specifically Southern Italy, soppressata is a particularly tasty cold cut dry salami. The specialty cut resembles traditional sausages and uses a unique pressing method, giving it a charmingly hand-made, uneven, rustic appearance when sliced and prepared. Soppressata’s inimitable flavor usually includes hot peppers, though the seasonings will vary. Frequently it is made with natural ingredients like salt, red pepper, chili peppers, black pepper, and cumin. Depending on the diameter, the sausage is hung up to dry anywhere between three and 12 weeks, losing around 30% its original weight when aging!
Soppressata’s composition is dense with a light red color depending on the seasonings and ingredients; despite the neutral salinity, the taste can be described as pungent, intense, and aromatic. Sometimes it is described as “spicy” or “sweet” simply because of the presence of sweet red pepper or hot red pepper, or sweet pepperoni or spicy pepperoni. By the time it hits the markets, the product can be seen vacuum-packed, assembled in single portions, whole, or in slices.
The strong flavor and scent of the salami pairs well with a variety of serving methods. Impress your friends or family and take home the top shelf pink wine or intense white wines. The balanced acidity of Aglianico is just one recommendation, and is often accompanied with cold cuts, meat, and wild game. The salami is also frequently served as an appetizer on a cutting board, with cheeses like Asiago. In addition, soppressata easily works as an ingredient that enhances the entire dish! The salami can even be tasted and served alone; preparation and delivery time can’t get any easier than that!