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Salami is a Southern European sausage prepared by curing, fermenting and air-drying different types of meat. Owing to its ease of preservation, for about a decade without any refrigeration, it was originally consumed as a substitute for fresh meat products by the man. Salami recipe is common inclusion of many cuisines, namely, the Italian, the German, Hungarian, French, Greek, Luxembourgian, Romanian and Turkish cuisines.

Origin of Salami

The word salami etymologically has its roots in the Italian word salame, which is a generic term used to refer to meat prepared by curing in the Italian style. The French name of the meat is saucission, while the Turkish, Bulgarian and Romanian name of salami is salam.

Ingredients of Salami

The salami recipe includes preparations made from pork, beef, venison, poultry meat and horsemeat. A number of ingredients are used for flavoring the dish. These are salt, vinegar, spices like garlic and white pepper, wine, fat and herbs.

Preparation Overview of Salami

Salami is prepared by first fermented for about a day or two and then the meat mixture is pushed into an animal casing (traditionally the animal gut is used for the purpose) for curing. The meat is heated at 40 degree centigrade to enable further fermentation of the sausage. The sausage is cooked at a higher temperature of sixty degrees to stop further fermentation and put in casings treated with disinfectant bacteria (such as Penicillium) for curing. Apart from protecting the meat from perishing while curing, the mold also helps in adding extra flavor to the salami. Salamis are not in the completely cooked form, salami cotto being a type of salami that is smoked prior to or after cooking not with the intention of cooking the meat, but to impart a specific flavor to it. Salami is subjected to bacterial fermentation for imparting flavor under very hot and humid conditions. Dextrose is added to the bacteria as food for growth and the action of this beneficial bacterium prevents the growth of other types of bacteria. The aging of the meat is done for about nine months though some versions of salami recipe ask for bacterial action only for six months. Curing of the meat is dependent on the external conditions and also on the capacity of the casing and its type. The sausage is dried after it gets fermented. The mold cover prevents the sausage from perishing. In the commercial preparation process, nitrates or nitrites are added to the meat to prevent the action of harmful bacteria. The meat should be cured perfectly and always fresh salami should be consumed to avoid the consumption of severely toxic substances which grow in the meat owing to bacterial action of harmful bacteria.

Serving Salami

Salami is a versatile dish which finds usage in a number of ways. Commonly served as a standalone or as a partner for other dishes, this sausage which is enjoyed as an appetizer is also a favorite party food of many. The softer and fresh salamis are best served as thin slices while the aged and hard salamis are best cut into large pieces for serving.

Storing Salami

Salami is often refrigerated well-packaged for preservation. It is mandatory for storing leftover salami by refrigeration. The storage instructions on the package of the commercially prepared salami should be followed regarding the necessity for refrigerating a variety of salami. The sausage is served partnered with cheeses like pecorino or mozzarella. It also finds usage as a pizza topping or filling to a number of main course items.

Popular Salami Recipe Variations

· Cacciatore- this is an Italian salami dish prepared by braising chicken or rabbit and serving it along with vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers and herbs. Wine is used in cooking this dish which is specifically characterized by the hunter style of cooking.

· Genovese Salami- this is made from meat of pigs which are specifically fed on a diet of nutritious nuts like hazelnuts, chestnuts and acorns.

· Pepperoni – this is a very popular variety of salami from the Italian American cuisine made from pork, beef and poultry meat ( less costlier versions). A Salami recipe such as pizza or submarine sandwich is typical of the pepperoni salami.

· Sopressetta- this Italian variety of salami typical of Calabria region is prepared by curing and drying pork or ham or beef. Another variety of the sopresetta is prepared without curing.

· Nduja- this is a strongly flavorful and soft French salami made from parts of pig like some parts of the head, a part of the skin and some fat underneath it called )(fatback). Spices, specially roasted red peppers, constitute an important ingredient for the dish as they are mainly responsible for the strongly chili flavor of the dish.

Salami Health Facts

Salami, though known to be composed of meat rich in vitamins thiamine and B12, proteins and antioxidant selenium, it is not considered very healthy for daily consumption. Being a processed meat made using nitrates and nitrates, it encourages development of cancer in stomach and encourages cardio-vascular diseases. Hence, it is best consumed occasionally as a party food.