The pride of Calabrian gastronomy is certainly represented by cured meats. So tasty, more or less spicy and loved by everyone, the Calabrian cold cuts are very famous throughout Italy, especially the nduja sausage, undisputed queen of Calabrian salami!
Typical of the areas of the Poro plateau, and in particular of Spilinga (in the province of Vibo Valentia), nduja is prepared with the most delicate parts of the pork – belly, head and thigh flavored with plenty of hot pepper – stuffed into the blind casing (orba) and then be smoked. It is characterized by a spicy taste and flavoured aroma, an intense red colour and a compact and soft consistency. For its tenderness, nduja is consumed by spreading it on slices of toasted bread, better if still hot to make tasty and original appetizers, or used as sauté for the base of tomato sauce or meat sauce. Because of its versatility in the kitchen, it can also be used in pizza. The nduja never fails in the Calabrian chopping, along with semi-mature cheeses or as an ingredient for tasty omelettes. Among the Calabrian cured meats, there are four PDOs produced with a specific regulation and protected by the specific protection consortium: Salsiccia di Calabria (sausage), Soppressata di Calabria, Pancetta di Calabria and Capocollo di Calabria. Calabrian PDO Salsiccia is the most well-known among Calabrian cured meats. It is obtained from the mixture of the shoulder and under rib meats, processed when the inner temperature is between 0°C and 3°C. It is then flavoured with black pepper, red or hot pepper and fennel seed. Afterwards it is bag-filled in natural swine bowels; and then, some holes are made into the bowels twisted to obtain the characteristic small chain or horseshoe form. The ageing process lasts not less than thirty days.
Calabrian PDO Soppressata is the best cured meat because of the meat mixture obtained from ham and shoulder, with the addition of a good choice of fat selected from the front loin bacon. The mixture, minced in the middle cut and flavoured with black pepper, red or hot pepper, is bag-filled in natural swine bowels. After that, some holes are made into the bowels tied with natural string. The characteristic shape is like a softly pressed cylinder. The Calabrian PDO Soppressata can be enjoyed as an appetizer or sometimes it is used as an ingredient to flavour first and second courses.
Tradition continues with Calabrian PDO Pancetta. It is obtained from the under rib pork. The meat, cut in a rectangular shape, is salted for a period of four-eleven days and then washed with vinegar. Sometimes the external part may be covered by hot pepper powder.
The Calabrian PDO Capocollo (Capicoddhu, capicodu or capaccuallu or capaccuaddru or Capeccuallu) is obtained from upper loin meats, deboned and traditionally salted or brined. It must have a fat layer of about three-four mm to maintain softness during the ageing process and to improve the organoleptic characteristics. The salting process lasts from four to eight days; after that, the capocollo is washed using water and vinegar and then pressed. Later on black pepper is added. Following it is wrapped up using the pork diaphragm tied with natural string. The ageing process lasts, at least, one hundred days from the salting process. The Capocollo di Calabria DOP is usually proposed as an appetizer or main course, accompanied by the traditional sourdough Calabrian bread, which enhances its intense and soft flavour.