cover image Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing

Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing

Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. Norton, $39.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-06859-7

As a follow-up to their excellent Charcuterie, these two Midwestern cured-meat aficionados focus on the skills and ingredients needed for creating a variety of Italian classics. Proponents of nose-to-tail cookery, they not only advise going whole hog, in the most literal sense, they also provide detailed instructions on butchering a pig Italian-style with “minimal sawing of bone” and leaving intact the “whole muscles prized for curing.” The accompanying illustrations are highly detailed and as beautiful as they are macabre. The basics of using salt are spelled out, as are the vital roles played by mold and bacteria. Then it is on to the “big eight,” the top cuts and how to prepare them for their sausagey destiny. They include the guanciale (jowl), coppa (neck/shoulder/loin), spalla (shoulder), lardo (back fat), lonza (loin), pancetta (belly), prosciutto (ham, back leg), and salami. For each, there is an appropriate cure—a mix of salts, peppercorns and other spices—which, once applied to the meat, requires drying times ranging from a few weeks to a year. Among the nearly three dozen salami recipes, there are options like orange and walnut salami, and a spicy salami diablo. And for those who have both a strong stomach and access to a pig bladder, there is culatello: 10 pounds of salted ham stuffed into the bladder, sewn shut, and left to dry for at least four months. (Aug.)