Salami is an extremely popular dried and cured sausage all around the world. And as a sausage, it’s difficult to tell what kind of meat it really is.
It’s made primarily from the following components:
- Meat: Typically, salami is made from beef or pork, but other meats like venison, wild boar, or poultry can also be used.
- Fat: Integrated throughout the salami, fat is essential for flavor and texture. The specific amount and distribution of fat vary according to the type and tradition of the salami.
- Salt: Essential for flavor and preservation.
- Spices and Seasonings: These can vary widely but often include garlic, black pepper, and sometimes wine.
- Curing Agents: Nitrites and nitrates, either in synthetic form or derived from natural sources like celery powder, are used to prevent bacterial growth and give cured meats their characteristic pinkish color.
- Beneficial Bacteria: Salami undergoes a fermentation process, where beneficial bacteria are either added or naturally present convert sugars into lactic acid. This acidification process helps in preserving the meat and imparts a tangy flavor.
- Natural or Synthetic Casings: After mixing the ingredients, the meat paste is stuffed into these casings, which are often made from animal intestines, though synthetic alternatives are also used.
Read on to learn more about salami.
What Kind of Meat is Salami?
Let’s start by asking, what is salami? Salami is a cured sausage that’s been fermented or dried (but sometimes, it can also be uncured – click here to learn more). But where does the meat in salami come from?
Traditionally, salami is made from pork. However nowadays, you can find salami made from beef, venison, lamb, or even duck.
What Part of the Animal is Salami Made From?
The term “salami” comes from the Latin word “Salumen” which means “salted meat.”
Based on this generic name, you can guess that salami can come from any animal and any part of the animal.
As a sausage, salami is made from ground meat, so the part of the animal it comes from doesn’t have to matter too much.
So if you’re buying salami from the store, the meat used to make it can vary by manufacturer or butcher. Check the ingredients on the label or ask the butcher about what it’s made from.
Where Does Salami Come From?
Salami is thought to originate from Italy and dates back to ancient Roman times (or maybe even before). However, other European countries in that region would also claim salami as their own.
Regardless, in that general time period, villagers would dry-cure meat as a method of preserving it to eat during the hard, long winters.
Types of Salami
There are many types of salami all across the globe. While Italy is known for many of them, other European countries also have their stake in the salami making industry.
Below are some of the types of salami out there based on country of origin.
- Genoa salami
- Milanese salami
- Finocchiona Salami
- Salami cotto
- Saucisson Sec
And there’s Germany and Hungary who also have their own popular types of salami.
How is Salami Made?
Salami is made from ground meat that has been mixed with the right proportion of fat, herbs, and spices (such as salt, black pepper, garlic, and vinegar).
Curing salts are also mixed in with the meat to conduct, you guessed it, the curing process. Curing salt adds the pink color you often see to salami. It helps preserve the meat and prevents the growth of bacteria that can make you sick (it’s also why you don’t always have to refrigerate salami – click here to learn more).
This meat mixture is then stuffed into sausage casings (which can be natural or synthetic) and then hung to dry. Salami is hung in a cool, dry, and dark place.
How Do You Eat Salami?
Salami can be enjoyed cooked (salami cotto) or uncooked.
Salami that’s been dry-cured, can be enjoyed as is without having to cook it (click here to learn more). This type of salami pairs excellently with cheese and is often enjoyed on charcuterie boards.
Cooked salami can be thrown into pasta dishes or used as a pizza topping. You can even add it to mac and cheese or mix it in with your scrambled eggs.
So, what is salami? Hopefully this article helped you answer this question and understand what salami is made of.
It may not be the most satisfying answer because salami is made from any meat, but don’t let that stop you from indulging in this delicacy!