What is it?
Widespread in many Italian regions, Capocollo or Coppa, is a cured meat, made from the upper portion of the pig's
neck and part of the
shoulder , a pork joint that is known precisely by the name of Capocollo. It is a fine cut of meat that is appreciated in particular for its high lipid content and its homogeneous grain.
Did you know?
Ropes and strings made out of natural materials are used with the aid of bamboo sticks to force a meat joint into a perfectly cylindrical shape.
Most of the pigs come from Calabria, but there are also some reared in Basilicata, Apulia, Campania and Sicily. Production, however, is concentrated in Calabria and the surrounding areas. The temperate climate that is typical of southern seaside areas in Italy is all embracing and penetrating and, for this reason, it is necessary to carry out the manufacturing process with great care to protect the meat from excessive heat, wind and humidity. Help comes in the form of the natural preservative "par excellence";
is applied for ten days, massaging vigorously so that the crystals penetrate deep into the meat. Sodium chloride tones up and preserves the meat and makes it firmer. But salt is not everything. Nature, with its precious herbs, contributes towards a perfect maturing process. After
, the product is placed in vinegar, massaged and pressed. The aromas come next: pepper and chilli, spices of the south, give color to the capocollo making it look more inviting. Lastly, the meat is wrapped in a pig's
parietal peritoneum membrane , and left to mature
. Ropes and strings made of natural materials are then used to compress the cured meat into shape. The Capocollo is now ready for the maturing
phase, and it is hung in a well ventilated environment for at least one hundred days. Humidity and temperature must be strictly controlled, and the maturing process must be slow but constant.
Coppa Piacentina is popular in the north of Italy while Capocollo Calabrese is popular in the south. The two products are similar, and they even inspire each other to explore different tastes. With roots in the southern Italian coastal area, known as Magna Grecia, pepper and hot chilli characterize the many variations of the Calabrian product. In Campania, Coppa is made using the entire dorsal muscle. For a richer
mixture, garlic, crushed pepper and fennel seeds are added. Production areas in Lower Irpinia, the hinterland of Naples and the hills around Caserta. In Apulia, the basic curing mixture with salt and pepper is used, but an additional procedure is added: smoking. The
phase takes place in so-called trulli (circular dwellings with a conical roof), that provide an optimal environment for the maturing process. Moving north up the boot of Italy, in Umbria, we come across a different process. After the salting
, it is washed
with white wine and dried in the open air, wrapped in wax paper and left out for a first exposure to the open air for about a week. It is then wrapped in straw paper that preserves it and maintains its characteristics intact. Once the cured meat has been tied
, it can be left to mature for about three months. The Capocolli of Norcia and Spoleto are the most tasty.