How to recognise a good cold cut

How to recognise good cold cuts?

A good “Mortadella”

It has a shiny, homogeneous and velvety look, with intense fragrance, pleasant and balanced, bright rose colour in juxtaposition with the lard cubes distributed evenly in the entire slice.
The slice should be intact, without holes, with a solid consistency when chewed.
At first taste, you should perceive a nice aromatic note paired by a full-flavored and characteristic taste, with a right balance and a long lasting savour.

A good ham steak

The outside features a pink pork rind which fades to pink-red, without bruising.
Observing the median cut, it should be possible to distinguish the 3-4 muscle fibres that compose it, and the surface should not be excessively shiny.
The slice should remain compact and finely mottled, the meat is expected to be evenly rose, perhaps with coral red hues in some specific portions of the muscle.
A good ham possesses a right fat layer of milky white colour and thick consistency.
The scent is never excessively spiced, neither it recalls broth or meat stock cube.
When tasted, it is featured by a perception of roundness, softness and a good balance between savoury and sweet flavour.

A Good Salami

The Italian salamis belong to an extremely varied and heterogeneous family, with reference to their dimensions, shapes, casings typologies, and the relation between low-fat and fat parts, their degree of grinding and the spices used for the flavouring process.
It is then difficult to write a unique vademecum able to suit all salamis, because each of them deserves a personal dissertation.
We can however make an attempt and give some hints about the common features of a good quality product.

  • It should not present excessive superficial incrustations (under the casing).
  • The low-fat parts should have a bright colour, far from being dark or fading.
  • The fat parts should be white and the colour should not tend to yellow, which is the sign of a beginning oxidation

The colour may change if the salami contains chili pepper or paprika

  • The slice should present complete cohesion between low-fat and fat parts, without any holes.
  • The fragrance should be characteristic and recall the spices used in the mixture.
  • The taste should be typical, with a good balance between sapid and sweet flavours, and it should never be sour nor bitter.
  • The aroma deriving from the spices should be always balanced and exalt the flavour of the meats without covering it.

A good raw ham

It should have proper dimensions and a right layer of fat in order to face a long aging period.
The fragrance should be characteristic, more or less intense depending on the typology and the aging degree, and it should never recall the fresh meat.
The colour of the meats ranges from rose to red, intertwined by the pearl white of the fat part, that must be solid and not excessively oiled.
When tasted it should present a soft consistency without drying up the mouth or feeling itself gristly and dry. The taste must be sweet and fragrant, not excessively salty and neither flat or uniform.
No sour, metal or bitter notes should be present.
The aromatic sensation should recall dried fruit (walnut and hazelnut), especially in products with long aging.