Where to Buy Colorado-Made Salumi — and How to Know What You're Buying
Salumi hanging at Il Porcellino.
In our story about Colorado chefs and butchers who are turning out some world-class cured meats, we threw out quite a few sausage and meat names — some of which aren't very common outside of Italy. But you'll hear them more frequently at various specialty shops around town, which are making the items locally. Here's a primer:
Salumi: Various cuts of meat, primarily pork, preserved in the Italian tradition of smoking, brining, fermenting and/or dry-curing. Some salumi (singular: salume) are cooked and some are not.
Bresaola: Salted and air-dried beef, generally the top round. Bresaola usually takes three months to age and is served in paper-thin, translucent slices.
Calabrese: A coarse-ground, dry-cured sausage from Calabria that is seasoned primarily with spicy red chile peppers.
Coppa: Also called cappacollo (or gabagool, if you're from New Jersey). Coppa is a whole-muscle, dry-cured salume made from a cut from the pork neck. It is often flavored with red wine and is sometimes coated with red-chile powder.
Culatello: A dry-cured salume made from the large muscle on the pork ham. Culatello comes from the same part of the pig as prosciutto but is cut from the bone before curing. The long aging time (at least a year) and the cut of meat means that culatello is one of the most expensive and sought-after of all salumi. The smaller muscle cut from the other side of the ham bone is often made into a cured meat called fiocco.
Whole-muscle meats like coppa (pictured here) and culatello take months to cure.
Finocchiona: A pork salami flavored with fennel and dry-cured for several months.
Guanciale: Dry-cured pork cheek that ages for only a few weeks. It is used in dishes like the original spaghetti carbonara (where it makes a nice change from standard American bacon) and bucatini all'amatriciana.
Lardo: Pork fatback cured with herbs and spices. It is generally sliced thin and becomes meltingly soft atop warm bread.
Lonza: Cured pork tenderloin. Lonza is similar to coppa but contains much less fat.
Nduja: A very spicy Calabrian sausage that is ground fine and fermented long enough that the result is a spreadable paste.
Pancetta: Pork belly cured in a roll or flat. Unlike American bacon, pancetta is not smoked. Pancetta can be sliced thin and eaten raw or diced for cooking in sauces.
Salami: Fermented and dry-cured pork sausage, which in its simplest form is nothing more than ground pork stuffed into a casing with salt and pepper. There are many regional variations of spices, shapes and sizes.
Saucisson sec: The French equivalent of salami, which can be made with a variety of seasonings.
Soppressata: A chunky, dry-cured pork sausage, usually with large, visible pieces of fat. It is often made with spicy chile powder.
Spalla: Cold-smoked and cured pork shoulder that is often smeared with a layer of lard before curing. The lard is wiped away before the meat is sliced and served.
Spanish chorizo: Unlike fresh Mexican chorizo, Spanish chorizo is a dry-cured sausage generally seasoned with smoked paprika.
Speck: Cured pork ham similar to prosciutto, only cold-smoked before being aged.
Okay, so now that you have the basics, where can you eat some of these great cured meats? Keep reading for a few shops around the metro area, plus some ideas for ordering online.
Avalanche Cheese Company
This Western Slope dairy also makes dry-cured sausage good enough to win national recognition from the Good Food Awards last year for its pork and goat finocchiona. You can find Avalanche products at specialty shops around Denver, including St. Killian's Cheese Shop in West Highland and the deli at Mercantile Dining & Provision inside Union Station.
1606 Conestoga Street, Boulder
Pick up a variety of dry-cured sausages at Blackbelly Butcher in east Boulder or stop in for dinner and enjoy some on a charcuterie board. Chef/owner Hosea Rosenberg and head butcher Nate Singer also make a wide variety of fresh and preserved meat products, from jarred pork rillettes to whole hams. Call ahead to see what's available in the butcher case.
Elevation is Denver's newest wholesale salumi maker, and right now the company is selling a number of flavored salami styles, from traditional black pepper or fennel sausage to more creative blends like Mexican mole and sour-beer sausage. Owners Alex Windes and Chad Whelan say they hope to have the first of their whole-muscle salumi ready for sale next spring. Order online or pick up some Elevation salami at the Preservery, or at Culture Meat & Cheese inside the Denver Central Market.
Il Porcellino Salumeria
4334 West 41st Avenue
Il Porcellino just unveiled its culatello after a year of aging. At $60 a pound, it's probably the most expensive Colorado-made meat you'll find, but a little goes a long way. An ounce sliced thin covers a large plate and easily serves one or two people (along with a little cheese and a bottle of Italian wine, of course). Il Porcellino is a retail producer, which means you can only buy its salumi at the Berkeley deli, but co-founder Bill Miner says he's slowly working on getting licensed for wholesale production.
Frank Bonanno's salumi program in the basement of Salt & Grinder also supplies Osteria Marco and Luca.
1453 Larimer Street
Sample restaurateur Frank Bonanno's own coppa and bresaola alongside imported salumi to see just how good Colorado-made products can be. Or head to Luca, where the board might include Bonanno's fennel sausage or culatello. And at Salt & Grinder, the chef's homage to the delis of his New Jersey childhood, the Frankie sandwich, comes stacked with prosciutto, coppa and ham made right downstairs.
North Denver Sausage/Paisano Sausage Company
This Italian sausage company was founded more than forty years ago and makes a number of dry-cured sausages, including chorizo, garlic sausage and "hot potato" sausage, that can be ordered online for shipping to your home.
3316 Tejon Street
Chef/owner Justin Brunson offers a variety of dry-cured meats and charcuterie on the daily board at this LoHi eatery and at his deli-style counter, Culture Meat & Cheese, inside the Denver Central Market. Coppa, saucisson sec and country pate are just a few of the offerings you might find.
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