Some history first…
Since the young age of probably 2 years, I’ve been used to eat bread with spreadable sausages (under oil or lard) made by my Nonna. I ate it either as my school snack or as an afternoon tea.
Nonna’s Cellar…That magic place
In summer she would store the sausages in her cellar as it has a stable temperature of about 15 degrees. For me, that place was a magical place…
…a place with the smell of wine, endless bottles of tomatoes passata sauces, hams, salami, sausages, cheeses, and much more treasures.
Still, these days that magic place is there! and I still love to enter that squeaky door with a hanging bell, placed by my Nonna to hear if someone would sneak in.
The truth about Spreadable Sausages
Well, all my life I thought that every Italian knows and eats spreadable sausages. But while living abroad and meeting other Italians, I discovered that the tradition of conserving the soft sausages under oil or lard, is a fully Abruzzese’s tradition.
How are they prepared?
The preparation of these ‘Salsicce’ includes cuts of pork: shoulder, neck, pancetta, and thigh. The meat is cleaned and unboned before adding no more than 10 to 20% of fat.
The mixture is grounded finely and mixed by hand, adding rosemary, pepper, and salt. Simple! This is how we produce them at my family’s place in Campovalano, a small town within the Teramo province. Every town and family in Abruzzo has its own way of producing them, and the spices vary accordingly.
The mixture is left to rest for some hours so that the meat seasons throughout.
Natural Casings or better known as intestines
In the meantime, the natural casings (intestines) of the pig (these will be used to preserve naturally the meat) are washed with lemon and vinegar. This process is repeated a few times for making sure they are perfectly clean. Now you can find them already cleaned at the butcher, but until 10 years ago you had to clean them by yourself. In our family, we prefer using the ones from our pigs, just to make sure everything is super genuine.
The meat, now seasoned, gets packed into the natural casings. Making sure air isn’t going in, the sausages are tightened by hand with a string. Usually, the ‘Salsicce’ are about 12 cm long and of 4 cm diameter.
For the first couple of weeks, the ‘Salsicce’ are left to dry on local bamboo sticks in a warm place, and later they are moved into a cooler room.
When the sausages reach the right dryness, they can be stored inside glass jars with EVO Oil or lard.
Oil or lard?
Many people now use seeds’ oil instead of Extra Virgin Olive (EVO) Oil for storing sausages, the latter is much better. My favourite ones are the sausages stored in lard. They are much softer and of a greater flavour than the ones under oil.
For many people might the preparation process sound disgusting, but it isn’t at all. In Abruzzo, this is just the normal way of preserving sausages. We actually don’t throw anything away from the pork. Everything gets used, from making delicious food to natural soap bars.
Away from the sunlight, the now ready ‘Salsiccie’ can be stored and used throughout the whole year for the famous ‘Sdijun’ (Abruzzese for brunch) or with a warm bruschetta accompanied with a glass of Montepulciano D’Abruzzo wine.
The sausages have to be unpeeled from the natural casings (just with a cut along with the sausage). This means that they will never touch directly the oil or the lard, so by using a paper cloth to help you, you won’t get your hands dirty at all.
Make sure, that they are well covered by lard or oil otherwise the uncovered sausages will go bad. In case this happens, you just remove the bad ones and keep storing the others.
Salsiccie di Fegato – Liver sausages
A variation of these sausages can include the liver’s meat. ‘Peperoncino’ (chilly) and some orange peel is also added to the meat mixture. I swear, if well made, they taste super good. You have to come here and taste them. Usually, liver sausages are not used and stored under oil, but just dried and then cooked on the grill.
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