This spring we’ve increased our online selection of salumi. To help our customers navigate their way through our new offerings, here’s Bklyn Larder Monger Phil Hofius.
At the shop I often hear from customers that are confused by the difference between “Salami” and “Salumi.” To the uninitiated, the two words might seem interchangeable, just a preference in pronunciation (i.e. “You say Salami, I say Salumi”). But there is in fact a delicious world of difference in swapping an “A” for a “U”.
“Salumi” takes its meaning from the Italian word for salt (sal) and refers to a number of cured and cooked meats such a prosciutto, mortadella, bresaola, lardo, coppa, and—you guessed it—salami. The one thing connecting all of these products is their reliance on salt for flavor and for curing, which we will get to shortly. So when we talk about “salami,” we’re talking about just one particular type of “salumi,” albeit one of the most popular and one that has been embraced by larders across the globe.
Every one of the countless versions of salami is a variation on the following formula: spiced and salted ground meat that has been extruded into an elongated, thin casing (traditionally, cleaned intestine) and left to ferment and air dry. While this means the meat in salami isn’t cooked, but that doesn’t mean that it’s raw. When made with the freshest and highest quality ingredients and aged in a controlled environment, salami is completely safe to eat and completely tasty.
Like many of the world’s best foods, salami’s (and salumi’s) popularity grew out of necessity. In the dark ages before modern refrigeration, meat had to be preserved to keep it from going rancid. Salting and adding healthful bacteria cultures to meat before hanging it in a temperature and humidity controlled environment makes the meat more acidic and extracts moisture from it, making it inhospitable to pathogenic bacteria. This process also gives salami their signature tanginess, which makes them a perfect accompaniment to cheese, wine, eggs, beer, pickles, or bread. You name it; there is a type of salami that pairs with it!
The specific flavoring of any salami usually depends on the region it comes from. Toscano, which comes from Tuscany, is heavily salted and features garlic, whole black peppercorns, and wine. Saucisson Sec originates in France and also features garlic and pepper but some variations contain dried fruit, nuts, liquor, and even bleu cheese. Spanish chorizo is spiced with paprika, giving it its signature smokiness and deep red coloring.
Everyday at Bklyn Larder, I’m surrounded by an assortment of salami that are perfect for charcuterie plates, wine or beer pairings, and picnics. Here are a few of my favorites along with some other goodies I love to pair them with:
Charlito’s Campo Seco: This rustic, tradition country salami is simply comprised of heritage breed pork and fleur de sel. It’s a crowd pleaser that even the choosiest of eaters will enjoy. Slice it up and gnaw on it along with your favorite crusty baguette and mustard or try plating it with a wedge of Cabot Clothbound Cheddar and some of our house-made Preserved Fruit to amaze your guests before your next dinner party.
Olli Salumeria Molisana: With a strong combination of black peppercorns and robust garlic, this variety is the classic recipe from Molise region of southern Italy. I prefer to pair it with some flakes of our beautifully fruity Piave Del Sapporo for an Italian charcuterie and cheese spread or bring it out to the park with a loaf of rustic bread and some spicy pickles for an afternoon picnic.
Olympic Provisions’ Chorizo Rioja: Made with antibiotic-free pork in Oregon this salami is spiced with sweet and smoky paprika, garlic and oregano. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a tangy Spanish manchego! Chorizo also gets along famously with seafood, so remember to stock up on some amazing sardines or anchovies and kick your next tapas platter up a notch.
With so many unique varieties of salami to choose from, you can count on at least one being the perfect addition to your larder. So come into the shop let me or one of my fellow mongers find the right salumi for you!