Things You'll Need
1 tbsp. finely ground black pepper
2 tsp. finely ground white pepper
1 tbsp. finely ground salt (noniodized)
1 tsp. finely ground coriander seeds
1 tsp. finely ground fennel seeds
7 lbs. lean pork meat, a variety of cuts
1 lb. streaky pork side meat
1 tbsp. finely minced garlic
1 cup grappa
4 feet of large beef casings
More salt and pepper
4 feet sausage netting
Sopressata Salami (also called Supersata) is a traditional Italian cured meat product. It is usually a flattened shape, up to a foot wide, and can be several feet long. It can also be round, but the name refers to the widespread custom of pressing it with a heavy weight during the curing. It is a popular salami, but not to everyone's taste. It is usually produced in the autumn when the family's hog is butchered. That's the fancy version. The original version made use of all the cuts that were left over for the butcher's family after the good stuff had been sold. At its most basic, it used all the bits and pieces that were available to a thrifty and hungry family; it was thought of as "poor man's salami." Most sopressata is made entirely with pork, but it's not uncommon to use a small portion of beef to fill out the ingredients.
Combine the peppers, salt, coriander and fennel and grind or pound to a fine powder. Set aside.
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Coarsely chop the meats into rough 1-inch cubes, then put them through the coarse blade of the meat grinder. Combine meats, spices, garlic and grappa in a large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly, until it is difficult to distinguish individual ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24 hours to begin curing.
Wash casings thoroughly with vinegar. Drain off vinegar and rub the casings with fine salt and pepper. Shake off the excess. Pack the cured sausage into the casing, tying at desired intervals. Press down very well on the meat, packing it tightly and expelling any air. Place the sausages in the sausage netting, if using. Decide what shape you want your salami to be. For a flattened sopressata, go to Step 4. For a round salami, go to Step 5.
For a traditional flattened sopressata, start the curing by placing the sopressata on a rack in a pan, then covering it with a cutting board or another rack. Place a brick or other weight on top and leave it for a week or two in a cool and airy spot. This will press some of the liquid out and also produce the traditional flattened shape. If you are going to finish curing by hanging your salami, go now to Step 6, otherwise, continue with this step to finish your sopressata. If you cannot hang your sausage, continue drying by removing the board and weight and leaving the sopressata on the rack. Store in a warm and airy place. Continue drying for two to three months, turning weekly. Leave until dry and solid, or until salami has reduced in wight by about 30%. Serve thinly sliced in sandwiches or as an appetizer.
Make a round salami. Do not flatten, simply hang the fresh, round salami in an airy, cool spot for a week or two, to start curing. Then, go to Step 6.
Finish your salami by hanging in a warm, well-ventilated place. Continue drying for two to three months, until dry and solid, or until salami has reduced in weight by about 30 percent. Serve thinly sliced with bread and cheese.
Vary your seasonings. Other possibilities are red pepper flakes, cloves, nutmeg, oregano, basil, or thyme. Substitute white or red wine for the grappa. Do not reduce the salt in this recipe. Salt is the preservative in this salami. If you can't find sausage netting, tie the casings off with butcher's twine. If you can't find either, tie the casings off with short pieces of casing, and cure your salami lying flat on a rack.
Sopressata is traditionally a raw, cured product. If you have any doubts about your meat, talk to your vendor or your local health professional. Many raw, cured pork products, such as prosciutto, are being made in North America quite safely. If you don't trust your meats, use only cooked ingredients. Your salami won't be the same, but it will still be good.