Friends! Ruminants! Charcutiers! Lend me your ears!
Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn are back with a followup to Charcuterie, which enjoyed a latter-day resurgence in popularity due to the phenomenal Charcutepalooza challenge that dominated 2011. This time they've returned with the next logical extension, Salumi, focusing on the rich world of Italian cured meats. (See Cathy Barrow's review of the book on Food52, complete with a recipe for salame cotto.)
For the unfamiliar, salumi is the generic Italian word for all cured meats -- including salami. And salame is the singular of salami. I know, not at all confusing. But salumi also include all the other wonderfully delicious salted pig parts like pancetta, guanciale, coppa, lardo, and of course the mother of them all, prosciutto.
Salumi is structured differently than Charcuterie. The latter offers up a series of styles of charcuterie that lend themselves to an escalation of skills, starting with very basic salt-cured duck "prosciutto," through increasingly difficult tasks like brining, packing, stretching, smoking and of course grinding and stuffing sausages.
In Salumi, Ruhlman dedicates nearly a third of the book to discussing the tools and techniques needed to make salumi, with a substantial amount of that dedicated just to the butchery of the pig itself. While the Italians do break down the pig into six major sections, just as in the U.S., they employ slight variations in order to optimize the cuts for the purposes of making salumi. This involves thinner cuts for the coppa and lonza, versus butt and loin cuts in the American style, plus a more generous cut around the head to harvest the coveted guanciale.
Ultimately, he categorizes salumi into what he labels The Big Eight:
Followed, of course, by recipes for each, the bulk of which are in the salami category. These range from a very basic salame, from which you could make numerous variations, to more ambitious projects like mortadella and the spicy, spreadable salame from Calabria known as 'nduja.
There is an additional, I guess lesser, ninth category, whole-muscle salumi, encapsulating culatello, speck and the like. Finally, he rounds out the book with recipes on cooking with salumi.
This book excites me, in large part because it comes soon on the heel of our trip to Italy, where we were party to breaking down a hog of our own, and watching skilled butchers convert it into salumi -- salame, salsiccia, cotechino, pancetta, guanciale, and more. (And we're doing it again this coming January. Won't you join us?)
And so I am throwing down the gauntlet and announcing a challenge, the Festa di Salumi. Think of it as a mini-Charcutepalooza. Since Salumi doesn't have the same kind of escalation of skills as Charcuterie, this will be a three-month challenge to try your hand at making Italian-style salumi in your home. I hereby present to you a challenge, the Festa di Salumi. Here's what you have to do:
This will not be as structured as Charcutepalooza. Simply take on your projects from September 15 through December 15. Post your progress as you go, and submit your posts to Punk Domestics, using the tag Festa di Salumi. Obviously, some projects require longer lead times than just three months, so we'll just see how far along you are by that time, and of course feel free to continue posting as they reach their point of completion. And, as with Charcutepalooza, absolutely do tell us what you choose to do with your salumi.
This is not a contest. It is a collaboration. A way for us to join and make meaty goodness all at once, together. I'll be playing along, undertaking a few projects in cooperation with my friend Scott, who has a better setup for curing than I do. I'll be posting along the way, and rounding up everything else that's going on in the Salumisphere.
So, ready, set -- cure!
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.punkdomestics.com/salumi" title="Festa di Salumi on Punk Domestics"><img src="http://cdn.punkdomestics.com/sites/default/files/u7/salumi/festadisalumi300.jpg" width="300" height="239" alt="Festa di Salumi on Punk Domestics"></a></div>
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.punkdomestics.com/salumi" title="Festa di Salumi on Punk Domestics"><img src="http://cdn.punkdomestics.com/sites/default/files/u7/salumi/festadisalumi160.jpg" width="160" height="127" alt="Festa di Salumi on Punk Domestics"></a></div>
So you like to make salumi, do ya? Well, why don't you join us for a week-long trip to Emilia-Romagna, Italy, to learn to make salumi, preserves, pasta, piadina and more at the hands of local artisans who do it the way it's been done for generation upon generation. Tickets are on sale now!