What does James Bond have to do with Calabrian salsiccia?
A curious coincidence – the 007 producer, Albert Broccoli’s parents were from Carolei, the tiny, picturesque town, close to Cosenza, in which the Pulice brothers produce their salamis and cold cuts.
Francesco greets us at the door and while Alberto organises coffee for us, we explain the reason for our visit…
We are here to view for ourselves the traditional cutting of the meat to make the delicious Calabrian sausage with two knives!
Before we receive a full tour of the production Francesco tells us about the company’s story.
Alberto and Francesco are the third generation and their children, the fourth generation are well on their way to taking the reins of this business where modern technology meets antique traditions.
Their nonno was a butcher who together with the brother’s father decided to expand the business. The company opened in what was one of the first salami factories in Calabria. The building over the years has been modernised and although the forest that lays in front of the building is no longer necessary to keep the building cool it is stands testimony to the company’s long legacy.
Francesco takes us around explaining every aspect of the production line, from the arrival of the fresh pork to the various preparation and packaging rooms and also to the cold cells.
Today the production is the spicy capocollo, here are four men working at the table; one side is using modern binding techniques to form this cold cut, the other side is using traditional string binding techniques.
The hand strung technique takes more time and skill, but the results make it worthwhile!
While they use different techniques for the binding, the brothers are advocates for the consortium of natural casing and has a DPO (protected domination of origin) certification, recognised in Europe and guaranteeing the quality of all their products.
The capocollo will be ready for consumption in just under a week.
As we peek into the various ageing rooms there is an array of products with which I am not familiar with. Or rather, I discover that I do know them, just not in their uncut forms!
Can you guess what these two products are? I certainly could not!
On the left is pancetta and on the right is guanciale!
Two of Italy’s favourite flavour boosters!
Afterwards Francesco takes us into the packaging room where I am able to see firsthand how the pancetta is cut and packaged into the form that I am familiar with.
The meat is cut, and vacuum packed in a matter of minutes to keep everything fresh.
Then finally the moment we have been waiting for: The two-handed cut!
Traditionally salamis and cold cuts were made at home and the process was a family effort. Before mincers were invented the men of the household (I haven’t heard stories of women, but I have no doubt that there were also women who knew this technique) learnt to cut and chop the meat with two knives in order to get the job done and get through the large quantities of meat as quickly as possible.
Today, this method is no longer necessary, thanks to modern day machinery. It is a skill that nowadays is almost only a memory of the nonni and as there aren’t too many of these grandparents with us anymore, sadly it is a skill and a tradition that is quickly disappearing.
The cut that is used to make Calabrian salsiccia is usually the shoulder.
Firstly, it is cut into slices and then strips.
Then chop chop both hand working to cut the meat into small pieces ready to be flavoured with Calabrese chili and stuffed into the casing.
The speed is quite alarming and I hate to think of what could happen especially when someone is learning how to cut the meat in this way….
If kept at 16°C at 75% humidity, the salsiccia should be ready to eat in about 30 days.
The Salsiccia is typical of the area of Cosenza, but the Fratelli Pulice also produce the famously hot ‘nduja, soppressata and spianata, along with other typical cold cuts and salamis.
If you happen to be exploring the area of Cosenza, I must recommend a stop at the Fratelli Pulice in Carolei to pick up some local delights and don’t forget to ask for their recipe booklet with some ideas on how to use these wonderful traditional products in interesting and original ways!