DIARY OF IL MOLINELLO
A story of the past
It was a long time we wanted to go back to process the pig as it once was, for us, for what little meat we still eat, and above all for our agriturismo’s breakfasts. Finally we found a place and people with the characteristics we were looking for: pigs reared free range, traditional processing and no added preservatives and artificial flavorings.
We planned our needs and decided to share a pig with another family of our friends, Elisa and Maurizio. We planned to do it a Saturday of Gennuary because this is the traditional time, we need cold temperature to preserve, work and age the meat. In the past the whole year was marked by different salumi, it means in Jennuary our farmers were used to eat the fresh things, impossible to preserve like lever, lungs, ribs, in Febbruary the youngest salumi like soppressata, buristo, sausages, for Easter time capocollo (litterally head-neck because this is where this salumi comes from) and lombo, later rigatino (bacon) and spalla and at the end of the year the prosciutto which takes one year of ageing and when also the prosciutto is finished it’s time to start again with a new pig!!
And now let’s go to work: if you want a good prosciutto you have to get dirty!!!
The pig has been killed the day before, not slaughtered anymore. First thing to do when it is down is cut the jugular vein, hang the pig and let him bleed out for a while. Then it is immediately scraped the hair and removed the guts. The day after has been cut into pieces, the main ones are: prosciutto, spalla (shoulder), capocollo (litterally head-neck because this is the part of the pig this salumi comes from), lombo (loin), rigatino (bacon), gota (cheek). They have been put on a table ready for the “agliata”. The agliata is a wash and energic massage with a mixture of winegar, salt, pepper and garlic (aglio) to clean and flavor the meats.
After this the salting, the duration is different depending by the piece, the size, and of course the butcher’s taste!! We go from 3-4 days for the capocollo and loin up to 18 for the ham.
Liver, lung, heart, ribs and steacks are immediately ready to bring at home.
All the trimmings left over are ground, the leaner ones to do salami and mortadella the fatter for sausages. Cut the bigger ones and grind, grind grind…
In the meanwhile we prepare the bowels and…the most important thing we drink a glass of wine before starting to knead!!!
The dough: add pepper and salt, then a glass of wine (there is always good!) and at the end fat made into cubes by knife and pepper grains.
And then…At my signal, unleash hell!!!
After a long kneading to make it omogeneous and remove as much air is possible, we prepared the ropes to tie the salami and we started to fill the machine. We settled the gut (now it comes from the cow because is stronger and easier to clean) and we started to fill it. It’s a very delicate phase, you have to pay attention to let go in little air as possible to avoid oxidations and the fat get rancid. For this reason the butcher does a lots of holes on the gut with a dedicated tool.
At the end we tied it up, we put it into a net, tied it again and… the most important thing, we affixed “the family seal” and put all of the precious results into the seasoning “safe”
A step back…there are still all the pots boiling!!! Soppressate and buristi are waiting for us…All the left over of the hog are boiling: the rinds, the head, the tongue, the cartilages boild for hours then chopped and mixed with spices, garlic, lemon and orange zest.
The word soppressata comes from the verb “to press” because all the dough is pressed into a canvas kind of bag and hung.
The buristo: the making process is similar to the soppressata with the adding of the blood and another boiling to let the blood coagulate.
What goes missing? Let’s see: the trotters, this time we left them to the butcher, but for the next time we already set a traditional recipe; fat, all the best parts not used for salumi go to do the lard and “i friccioli” (pork scratchings). The lard is, at the moment, in jars ready to be used for the breakfast’s cakes, the scratchings unfortunately have gone into the soppressata because we forgot to keep and use them for the “ciaccino con i friccioli” (flat dark brown loaf)… a real delicatessen! The other lard, “the grascia” (the suet), time ago was used to clean and waterproof shoes and boots, I tried to convince Elisa to take some of it at home…but I didn’t!!!
What to add? Really a a day of the past.
To kill an animal is never a nice thing to do and it leaves me always thoughtful but necessary unless we became vegetarian that’s a choice I understand and respect. The thing I am looking for more is pigs coming from industrial breeding.
All the pigs we are eating nowadays come from industrial breeding, animal kept in terrible conditions: cages very tiny, no sociality at all, massiv dosing of hormones and antibiotics, industrial phylosophy of processing, adding of water, milk, preservatives and artificial flavors.
I believe meat consumption should be strongly reduced but the few we still eat should be, as Carlin Petrini, the Slow Food founder, says good, clean and fair.