In Italy, the word soppressata (meaning "pressed down") can refer to several different types of sausage. In Basilicata, for instance, where soppressata is a dry-cured salami, butchers use only the best cuts of pork. In Tuscany, on the other hand, soppressata is a large, uncured sausage: The unusable parts of the pig are cooked down into a flavorful mixture, then stuffed into a sausage casing.
Perhaps the most popular type of soppressata is the sopressa vicentina from Vicenza. This dry-cured salami has a round shape and a distinctive herbal flavor with hints of garlic and rosemary. True sopressa vicentina can only come from certain Northern Italian pigs weighing over 287 pounds. While your local butcher probably doesn't sell such delicacies, you can make your version of this delicious sausage with regular pork meat.
Most people choose to make soppressata with medium-sized hog middles, beef middles, or collagen casings that range from 1.5 to 3 inches in diameter. Feel free to experiment with different types and sizes of sausage casings—if you can't buy them at your local specialty market or butcher, you'll find an abundance of options online. Unlike typical store-bought salami, soppressata should have large, distinct chunks of fat and meat—make sure to use a coarse grind setting on your meat grinder.
- Black peppercorns, to taste
- Cloves, to taste
- 6 1/2 pounds pork meat, loin or other lean cuts
- 1 pound lard
- 1 pound pork side
- 6 tablespoons salt, divided
- 1/2 cup grappa
- Sausage casing
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Pecorino, fresh goat cheese, or any complementary cheese for serving (optional)
Gather the ingredients.
Grind the peppercorns and cloves together with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.
Clean the pork meat well, trimming tendons and gristle.
Chop up the pork meat, lard, and pork side until the mixture will fit into the meat grinder.
Put the meat through a meat grinder and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the ground cloves and peppercorns, and 4 tablespoons of the salt to the ground meat. Mix to ensure even distribution.
Add the grappa.
Wash the casing well in vinegar.
Combine remaining salt and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Dry the casing thoroughly and rub it with the salt and pepper mixture. Shake off the excess.
Use a sausage stuffer to fill the casing, pressing down to expel air.
Twist the ends of the casing shut and tie the salami with string.
Hang for two to three days in a warm place and then for two months in a cool, dry, drafty spot, where the temperature hovers around 60 F and the humidity level is around 60 to 70 percent.
The soppressata is ready to eat when it's lost about 30 percent of its weight.
Cut into thin slices and arrange on a charcuterie board.
Enjoy with a selection of delicious cheeses—pecorino and fresh goat cheese usually go well with soppressata.
Food Safety and Sausage Making
Since cured sausages are made from raw meat that is salted and air-dried for weeks or months, you must ensure that your sausage hangs in the right cool, drafty spot. If the temperature deviates significantly from 60 F or the humidity from 60 to 70 percent, then you risk eating a contaminated sausage. The salt, air, and time all "cook" the meat.