Soppressata: What Is It?

December 22, 2023
Soppressata
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All across Italy, you may find shops selling soppressata, a dry-cured salami. Its texture is solid and its flavour is strong and spicy. Let’s examine this well-loved Italian charcuterie more closely.

What is Soppressata?

Soppressata (also known as sopressa) is a dry cured salami that originated in Italy. It’s made from a mixture of pork and beef, along with fat, salt, pepper, garlic, and red wine. The name “soppressata” comes from the Italian word “soppressare” meaning “to press or suppress” referring to the pressing of the salami during production.

Some key characteristics of soppressata include:

  • Made from coarsely ground pork and beef
  • Seasoned boldly with black pepper, chili pepper, garlic, and red wine
  • Cured with salt and hung to dry for several months
  • Produces a firm texture with tangy, spicy flavor
  • Often produced in larger diameters compared to other salamis
  • Sold whole, in thick slices, or diced

Within Italy, there are many regional variations of soppressata reflecting local ingredients and traditions. Some of the most popular types include:

  • Soppressata di Calabria: From the Calabria region, it uses plenty of hot pepper for a spicy kick.
  • Soppressata Veneta: A milder variety from the Veneto region.
  • Soppressata Toscana: From Tuscany, it often includes garlic and black pepper.
  • Soppressata Piemontese: A rich, meaty version from Piedmont.

How is Soppressata Made?

The production of soppressata is a careful, time-honored process. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Select the meats. A combination of pork and beef is used, usually about 80% lean meat and 20% fat. The cuts are typically taken from the hog’s shoulders, ham, and belly.
  2. Grind and mix. The meats are coarsely ground and mixed with salt, spices, garlic, and red wine. The bold spicing is a key element of soppressata.
  3. Stuff into casings. The seasoned meat mixture is stuffed into natural or collagen casings, traditionally hog intestines. They are tied off in links.
  4. Cure. The salamis are hung to cure for 1-2 weeks. This allows the salt to penetrate the meat which draws out moisture.
  5. Dry. Following the initial cure, the soppressata links are hung in cool, humid conditions for several months to air dry. This slow drying concentrates the flavors.
  6. Age. The soppressata is aged in cool cellars for at least 90 days, sometimes longer depending on the size. This allows the flavors to continue developing.
  7. Enjoy! Once properly cured and aged, the soppressata is firm and ready to slice, eat, and enjoy!

Tips for Buying Soppressata

When shopping for soppressata, here are a few tips to find a quality product:

  • Check the label. Look for soppressata made in Italy for authentic flavor. Avoid generic “salami” if you want true soppressata.
  • Get whole links. For the best texture and flavor, purchase whole soppressata sausages rather than pre-sliced.
  • See the spices. Quality soppressata will show visible black peppercorns and chili flakes when sliced.
  • Opt for organic. If possible, choose soppressata made from meats raised without antibiotics or hormones.
  • Know the regions. Try different regional styles like Calabrian, Veneto, or Tuscan for variety.
  • Check the casing. It should have a natural hog casing, not plastic.
  • Read the ingredients. Traditional soppressata just contains pork, beef, salt, spices, and wine.

How to Serve and Eat Soppressata

Soppressata can be served and eaten in many different ways! Here are some of the most popular options:

  • Slice it thin and enjoy on a charcuterie or antipasto board. Pair it with cheeses, olives, nuts and crisp bread or crackers.
  • Dice or slice it to add bold flavor to panini, subs, pizza, pasta, risottos or soups.
  • Thinly shave it over salads or pizza for a tasty protein boost.
  • Fry diced soppressata in olive oil to render the fat. Toss with pasta or vegetables.
  • Grill or pan-fry slices to intensify the flavors.
  • Chop and add it to cooked red beans, lentils or chickpeas for a flavor punch.
  • Bake pieces into egg dishes like frittatas, omelets or stratas to add hearty meatiness.
  • Stuff sliced soppressata into a hero/sub roll with provolone cheese for a classic Italian combo.
  • Puree it in a food processor and spread onto crostini or sandwiches for flavorful spread.

The bold spicing and rich texture of soppressata make it endlessly versatile in cooking!

Common Questions about Soppressata

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about this popular Italian specialty.

1. What’s the difference between soppressata and salami?

Soppressata is a type of salami. All soppressata is salami, but not all salami is soppressata. The key differences are that soppressata uses a mix of pork and beef, tends to be more coarsely ground, and has a signature spicy seasoning.

2. How do you pronounce soppressata?

It’s pronounced “so-pres-SAH-tah” in Italian. The double “s” forms a sounding similar to “ts” in English.

3. Is soppressata spicy?

Traditional soppressata has a bold, spicy flavor from black pepper, chili pepper, and garlic. However, some regional styles are milder than others. Soppressata di Calabria is known for its intense spicy kick.

4. How long does soppressata last?

Properly dried and stored, whole soppressata sausages can last 2-3 months in the fridge or up to 6 months in the freezer. Sliced soppressata has a shorter lifespan of about 2 weeks refrigerated.

5. Can you eat soppressata while pregnant?

It’s best to avoid soppressata and other raw cured meats during pregnancy due to the risk of listeria and toxoplasmosis infection. Cooked soppressata reheated to steaming hot is safer when expecting.

6. Is soppressata keto-friendly?

Yes, soppressata is suitable for low carb, keto and paleo diets. Just watch your portion size, as even “keto foods” can add up in carbs. One ounce of soppressata has under 1 gram of net carbs.

Try Making Your Own Soppressata!

Interested in making your own soppressata at home? Here’s a quick guide:

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • Hog casings, soaked

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients well except casings.
  2. Stuff mixture into hog casings and tie off in 6-8″ links.
  3. Hang links to cure for 1 week at 50-60°F.
  4. Dry for 2-3 months at < 60°F and 65% humidity.
  5. Enjoy your homemade soppressata! Slice thinly and pair with cheese and wine.

Make sure to precisely follow curing and drying guidelines for food safety. Enjoy experimenting with different meats, spices, and wines in your own soppressata creations!

So in summary, soppressata is a bold, savory salami that makes an excellent addition to charcuterie boards, sandwiches, pizzas and pastas. With its signature spicy flavor and firm texture, this Italian specialty has earned a place in salami-lovers’ hearts everywhere. Now that you know what it is and how it’s made, get out there and try some soppressata today!

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