In the days before refrigeration, curing meats guaranteed a supply of meat thought the warmer months. Cured meats are also wonderfully tasty and an excellent way to begin an informal meal or as a sandwich filling.
Meat curing is the application of salt and seasoning in order to impart unique properties to the end product. Salting, air-drying and smoking to preserve the meat are an ancient practice and not only preserves the meat, but concentrates and transforms the flavours.
Cured meats fall under two categories: those obtained from a whole cut of meat, such as Prosciutto, Jamon Serrano, Speck, Pancetta, Coppa, Lomo (loin)… and those obtained from minced, ground, or chopped meat that is seasoned and then stuffed into casings (natural or artificial) like salami, chorizo, salchichon, mortadellas…).
Salami sizes and shapes can range from tiny to imposing; they can be delicate or fiercely hot; they can have spreadable consistency or hard if cured for a longer period of time; they are best enjoyed with a piece of crusty bread, or they can be the star ingredient in your favourite recipe.