There is no denying that cured meats are delicious. Whether you serve them on a platter or a sandwich, there is something about them that makes you want to eat more.
Many studies show how bad processed meats are. We’re here to talk about capicola, that’s what we’re here for.
It’s just one of many types of cured meats, and it’s probably one you’ve heard a lot about on a television show.
It’s not a more mainstream type of cured meat, like bacon, and if you’ve heard about it more than you’ve had it, it’s probably pretty good.
So what exactly is this? Is it as delicious as bacon? What makes it different from the other cured meats out there? Is it as authentically Italian as it seems, or is it just pretending? How long does it last?
Capicola lasts approximately 1 year. When stored properly in a cool, dry environment, Capicola can remain fresh for up to 3 years.
Let’s check it out.
So, What is Capicola?
What exactly are you eating when you take a bite of capicola? It’s quite specific.
According to DePalma Salumi, capicola is one of several types of cured Italian meats. The area between the neck and the fourth rib of the pork shoulder is where this one comes from.
“Capo” means “head” and “collo” means “neck”, according to Academia Barilla, who says the pigs of choice are at least eight months old.
Large breeds typically raised in the south of Italy have been the best of the best.
If you’re wondering what makes this part of these pigs so special, SBS says it’s all due to the fat ratio.
Capicola is 30 percent fat and 70 percent lean, and that means it’s both tender and moist even after it’s been cured.
History of Capicola
Capicola is nothing new, and cured meats are nothing new at all. According to Barilla, capicola goes back to the time of the colonies of the Magna Graecia…
But what does that mean to you? The Ancient History Encyclopedia is where we will need to turn for that answer.
The Greeks colonized the areas along the coast of southern Italy between the 8th and 5th centuries BC.
We said that it has been around a long time. The area was attractive to the ancient Greeks because of its fertile lands, perfect position within a larger trade network, and it was completely Greek when they settled there.
They brought stuffed pork sausages, as well as things like the Olympic Games.
They’re still known for their large-breed pigs and their pork products today, and that kicked off the start of the area’s deep love of all things pork.
There are a lot of different terms you’ve probably heard used to refer to various meats, and a lot of them sound very, very similar to “Capicola.”
Let’s clear up any potential confusion with help from Di Bruno Bros.
The reason for the confusion is the fact that many regions in Italy have their version of capicola, and some are very specific just to that area.
They are both types of capicola from Italy. The version that’s made in America is made with either red pepper or black peppercorn, which is a little different.
There’s also ham capocollo, which is also called ham-capi and it is a different thing. It’s said to be a cross between ham and capicola, and it’s a spiced and boiled ham.
Correct, it’s confusing, right? According to DeLallo, there are still other types of coppa.
Basilicata traditionally uses hot pepper powder that is not as salty or smoky as the stuff from Calabria, and their version is usually not as salty or smoky as the stuff from Umbria.
The long and short of it is that different varieties come from different regions.
What Is the Difference Between Capicola and Other Cured Meats?
All cured meats go through the same process of washing, salting, and drying. What makes capicola different from other thin-sliced cured meats?
It’s where the meat comes from on the pig that makes it different, according to the Huffington Post.
Take a bite out of it. The cure for that comes from the pig’s hind leg and can last from nine months to two years.
The hind leg is where the speck comes from, but it’s made using different spices and it’s cold-smoked after curing.
Capicola is from an entirely different part of the pig, so it can be used pretty interchangeably, but they’re going to taste different.
Is there anything about soppressata? That can come from almost any part of the pig, and it can include bits like the tongue and head.
Is Serrano ham a delicacy? That can only be called in Spanish if it is from a breed of pig called the Landrace.
Is Capicola Cooked or Not Cooked?
The confusing part isn’t over just yet, and it’s also worth talking about the two different ways capicola is made. Bear with us, we’re with you.
The thin-sliced neck and shoulder meat that’s been cooked can be referred to as capicola or capocollo.
When that piece of neck and shoulder meat is dry-cured, it’s referred to as coppa… In the United States, the terms are often used interchangeably.
You might just get the dry-cured stuff if you order capicola at your local deli counter. It was confusing, we said it was that way.
When we talk about the process of dry-curing, what does it mean?
This is different based on region and tradition, but essentially, DeLallo says that the process involves taking your piece of meat, adding salt and other spices, then putting it into a natural casing, tying it up, and letting it age for at least some time.
Italy is a great place to make these types of meats.
The combination of humidity and temperature found in certain areas of Italy makes it perfect for slow aging, as there’s little to no risk of the development of mold.
How Can I Make Capicola?
Depending on where you live, Capicola might be hard to find and it might be expensive. You can make it at home, that’s good news.
Since you’re doing it at home, there’s no need to be traditional, a curing salt mix, or pork shoulder, all you’ll need is a pork shoulder.
There are several things you can do after seasoning your pork shoulder.
You can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and let it sit in your fridge for a few weeks, or you can cover it in salt and let it sit for one day for every two pounds of weight.
The most important thing here is the aging process.
You’ll need somewhere to hang and age your capicola for months before you get to cut into it, and you’re going to want a place that holds a relatively high humidity but temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do you think it’s complicated? A small percentage. Do you mean a long process? Yes, but it is worthy.
How Can I Serve Capicola?
So, here’s a question: What are you going to do with capicola? You can serve it on a platter, but that’s not the only thing you can do.
Capicola can be used for every meal of the day, and you can use it for the main course, as well as for appetizers.
It can be used to line mini puffs of pastry, cradle a mashed potato, wrap spears of asparagus, or top a piece of melon with crackers.
If you want to dress up a boring dinner, you can use the combination.
You can use slices to stuff chicken breasts, or even dice them and sprinkle them over pasta or pizza. Is it possible for you to have breakfast?
Is it possible to mix it into your breakfast sandwich or omelet? Whatever you’re making a delicious, super salty kick from, it’ll give it.
How Long Does Capicola Last?
I’ve heard it said many times, “Capicola will last you a lifetime.” But how long does it last? Not as long as you may think.
Capicola is a spicy Italian specialty made with fennel seed and hot pepper flakes. It is often served warm in small bread bowls with a drizzle of olive oil.
Because it’s a condiment, capicola is typically used as a topping for pasta dishes or pizza. When stored properly it will last for one year to three years.