Saturday, October 20, 2007

Coppa butchery - How to harvest one

Coppa. What is coppa? Coppa is a muscle of the pork right behind the back of the head, at the top of the shoulder. In the cute little picture of pig parts on the left, it is #4. I guess in English it could be called "pork collar". In Italy this specific piece of meat is available at grocery stores to braise and to roast as "coppa fresca", but here in the US, it takes some effort to get a hold of. When cured it is a wonderful combination of meat and fat, heady from the aromatic spices and herbs in which is it cured. Sliced thin it is a classic on a plate of salumi (cured meats) and makes wonderful sandwiches. You may also know it by its southern Italian name of "capocollo", which translates to "top of the neck", which makes sense. Or you may have heard the word mangled and pronounced "capicola", which is a derivative of capocollo. How about we just stick to the real word: coppa.

So lets start with getting ourselves a piece of coppa. Your best bet, and what I normally do is harvest it from a whole pork shoulder/boston butt which i get at Costco. Sometimes unfortunately the Costco butchers mangle the shoulder so badly when they remove the bone that getting a nice hunk of coppa is near impossible. I've also found if you can find a nice LARGE piece of bone in shoulder/boston butt at the supermarket you can usually get a nice coppa out of it. With the rest make salame!

On the left here in the picture you see a whole shoulder from Costco. I put a blue rectangle around the coppa. I also labeled the direction where the pig's legs and head would be and where the shoulder bone used to be. Hopefully you can orient yourself.




Here the shoulder is lifted on its side. Again I labeled the coppa, and the direction where you'd find the feet, and the side where the skin would have been.






This is the same coppa but flipped over. You can see the nice fat striations in the muscle which will keep the coppa soft and make it tasty once cured. Hmmmmm faaaat.




Cut away the generally circular coppa, and shape it generally into a cylinder of meat and fat.








This is the other side of the coppa. It will end up being about 90mm/3.5" in diameter







You now have a coppa ready to be cured. Stay tuned for that post, which will be coming shortly. I'll be posting about 2 different methods for curing it.

58 comments:

  1. Jason, thanks so much. I understood the vague location but the pictures help tremedously. My experiment with Ruhlman's Coppa recipe using chunks of pork ended poorly so I'm looking forward to trying with the whole muscle.

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  2. I'm glad the images helped. Honestly, i'm not sure where Ruhlman got the idea that coppa is made from chunks, and is entirely wrong.

    That is one of the very few issues i have with that book.

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  3. Jason-
    This is very helpful. I could never figure out where the Coppa was no matter how many explanations I read. Your pictures are perfect.

    Elie

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  4. I just played with a 5+ lb. pork butt. I think I was able to harvest the coppa myself. Is it possible that the coppa would only weigh slightly more than 1lb.? If so, I did it.

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  5. Scott, that is possible. It depends on how big the shoulder is to begin with, depending on how the butcher cut it. I think mine are pretty small too most of the time.

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  6. I'm assuming I got it. Cutting up the rest of it for sausage, none of it looked like coppa, so, lucky guess by me.

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  7. Cool! Glad you were able to track it down. After you've done it a few times you learn to see it in whole pieces, and picking out pieces that have nice big ones.

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  8. THANK YOU FOR THIS EXPLANATION, SOMEONE TOLD ME COPPA WAS SALAMI -

    CHEERS
    TOP CUT FOODS
    SYDNEY AUSTRALIA

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  9. how can i cut a Culatello from a ham??

    thnx

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  10. Peter, i wish i knew. I'd like to know that one as well.

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  11. Jason, Do you pasted the curing process fro the coppa?

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  12. I'm not sure what you're asking, but here is the coppa recipe:
    http://curedmeats.blogspot.com/2007/11/coppa-dry-cured.html

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  13. You have to de bone the ham and use only the meat from the back side of the ham. Once it is cured you tie it in a pear like shape and hang for about a year. After that you have Culatello. Hope that helps ;)

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  14. KRdub, thanks..it helps...sort of:)

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  15. Are you freezing your pork for 2-3 weeks to kill off the trichinosis? Seems a lot of folks are not doing this. Mostly curious.

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  16. Carl, trichinosis is essentially non-existent in commercial pork. I don't plan to do the 2-3 week freeze, but sometimes it does end up that way based on schedule and all that.
    It certainly can't hurt to do it.

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  17. Agreed,

    BTW - many thanks for your blog. I've read most of the better meat science & Charcuterie books - some of them several times - but they don't have the space to devote to the detail you do.

    The CDC reports 40 cases of trichinosis in the USA annually with 10-20% of them acute. However, the don't seem to break these out by meat sources, so they might be wild game. Hard to find source about commercially processed pork because everyone is talking their book.

    I'm moving towards doing this semi-professionally so I'm trying to "dot my i's & cross my t's"

    thanks again

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  18. Carl, i believe the majority/all the trichinosis cases come from wild animal consumption...but if you're going to do this commercially it certainly can't hurt do freeze for safety

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  19. Jason,

    Ever tried to vacuum seal your meats for curing? I just vacuum sealed a couple of round eye roasts in "breaola cure" into a seal-a-meal bag. Wondering if the meat needs to out-gas for some reason. There are a lot of different theories.

    BTW - putting the final touches on my curing chamber tomorrow with a bathroom exhaust fan on a timer w/ a couple of insulated foam baffles (to keep in temp/humidity inside when it's not running) A timer will set the thing off once a day & vent the stale air.

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  20. I haven't tried vacuum curing, but i've read of people doing it and it working well b/c it keeps all the brine in direct contact with the meat.

    good idea with the bathroom vent

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  21. Hey Carl, when your bathroom fan comes on, where does it suck the fresh air in from?

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  22. I'm just going to let it run for five minutes.

    Prima facia it seems that it would need a fresh air input, but its a 50 CFM fan running in a 16 cf freezer.

    I'm guessing that it will just keep making a fresher & fresher air-mix at the top which will migrate through out due to the internal fan running 24/7 in the freezer. I have a remote RF temp/humidity sensor & I can monitor how quickly the RH drops to test efficacy. If I need to, I can simply install a baffled input on the bottom, but I think it will be unnecessary

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  23. Got the exhaust fan set-up & it pulled down the humidity 6% in five minutes and that was w/ out the interior fan running - so I'm thinking an input vent is not necessary - replaced the 16cf freezer w/a 20.5cf

    Running 21 lbs of Sopressata as soon as the back fat freezes up

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  24. Jason, I've got 40 pounds of Sopressata, Loma, Bresola & Capicola drying in the chamber want to send you a photo - were do I send it to?

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  25. Carl: send it to jasonREMOVEmolinari@DONTPUTTHISyahoo.com

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  26. when i was a kid i remember getting Capicola that had a red spice hat seemed to ge drawn into the fat veins. i read capicola is coppa. Have you seen this? do you have a spice recipe or it? I remember it being more like ham texture and not very hard.

    anhony

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  27. when i was a kid i remember getting Capicola that had a red spice hat seemed to ge drawn into the fat veins. i read capicola is coppa. Have you seen this? do you have a spice recipe or it? I remember it being more like ham texture and not very hard.

    anthony

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  28. Anthony, capicola is generally coppa, yes..but i do not have a recipe for what you're referring to. You can experiment and develop your own recipe. Sounds like it would use red pepper and paprika for the red

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  29. I too have had issues with Ruhlman's coppa. This makes way more sense. I was recently butchering big berks, and there is a fantastically marbled piece running through the upper shoulder that would have been awesome to cure whole. Next time.

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  30. Costco does not have butchers. Great post, the neck is best.

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  31. Jason, I have made a mistake with using cure #1. ONE WEEK LATER I RINSED WELL AND APPLIED MORTONS TENDER CURE. Will this be ok if I keep refrigerated? Also the butcher gave me a shoulder about 2.5 pounds, I assume this may not be wht I need or more than the coppa portion. Can I stioll trim it and hang it? I have a basement conistently at 61 degrees and 72% humidity. is that too warm?

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  32. I can't say if that piece of meat will be ok. I don't know the % of nitrates and nitrites in morton's tendercure, but i'm pretty sure it's not meant for long term cures, and you don't know if you've now overcured the meat.

    You can trim any shoulder..it might be a small coppa.

    61 is borderline too warm, in my opinion...really would be better below 59-60.

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  33. Coppa can be be both cut into cubes and stuffed into a casing or used straight from the neck. Keep in mind there is no one way to make any salumi. The original purpose of these cured meats is to preserve food throughout an extended period of time and most importantly utilize the entire animal. They are peasant foods. I recommend trying it both ways. The coarser the cube the better. 1" cubes are great. Creates a very rustic sausage.

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  34. Actually, Aaron, you're wrong. Coppa cannot be made from chunks. That's not what coppa is. Coppa is a solid muscle. That name of the muscle itself is "coppa".
    Never in my 35 years have i seen or even HEARD of a coppa made with chunks.

    Can you make salame with a coppa? Sure. Is it a coppa? No.

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    1. Actually, Jason, you're incorrect. Perhaps you have not been exposed to old world recipes in your 35 years. Yes, the coppa is a solid muscle which literally translates to neck. I agree. However, the coppa sausage, does not need to be in the form of a whole muscle when cured. You simply have to use the "coppa" or "neck" muscle in the recipe. To answer your question, I would not use the coppa muscle in salami. That would be like using the culatello in pepperoni. Lol.

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  35. Aaron, i'm not saying that such a product doesn't exist, just that it's not called "coppa".
    I've visited many old school butchers and curers in Italy, read pretty much every historical and product book in Italian on the subject and have never even seen a passing mention of a "coppa" that is made from a cut up coppa and stuff.

    We'll just have to disagree on this point!

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    1. Jason, I'm not questioning your effort in researching the "coppa". However, there are several provinces ln the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region that most certainly differentiate between coppa and capicola. I would imagine the word was shortened at some point. Seemingly this happens often enough and seems to be particularly prevalent in the southern parts of Italy where individuals find pronouncing the entire word exhausting. I suppose a reliable source such as Wikipedia would turn up similar results stating a relationship between coppa and capicola, and I am even aware that in most areas of the United States they are the same thing. They are certainly made from the same cut. I am not trying to compromise your credibility. I am simply sharing factual information from personal experience.

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  36. Aaron, I'm not quite sure I get what you're trying to explain. If you're saying area of Friuli use the term "capicola" I can assure you that is not the case as the term is an american bastardization of the word capocollo, which is a predominantly southern term.

    Are there products in italy called capocollo which are the same as a coppa? Yes, they're 2 words for the same thing.

    Are capocollo and coppa equivalent culinary terms? Yes. Pretty much. And which you use will be dictated by what part of Italy you're from.

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    1. I am simply reiterating that "coppa" sausage in certain northern regions of Italy is made from the nape or coppa of the hog and is cut up into chunks and stuffed in casings. I did not say that it cannot be made from whole muscle. So just to clarify, I have eaten "coppa" made from cut up chunks of the "coppa" and the product was sold and marketed as "coppa" on more than one occasion. That is all.

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  37. Aaron, they are extremely rigid with their nomenclature in Italy. If it wasn't a whole muscle, it wasn't coppa, most likely a salame di coppa. Like Jason said, the term "capicola" is not an Italian term.

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    1. Thank you Scott, I suppose I too have played the role of Didymus. I'll be sure to ask questions here on out and not step on any toes.

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  38. Not at all, sir. It's a learning process and is very confusing. Here to help. Feel free to ask questions. I must correct Jason, however, in regards to the chunked coppa. In the book "charcuterie," they call for a shoulder to be chunked and stuffed into a casing, calling it coppa. However, that was subsequently exposed as a mistake. So, there, technically it DOES exist.

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  39. Does anyone have a recipe for the lard mixture that you put on the exposed meat of a prosciutto?

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  40. Mix rice flour and lard until it's a very thick paste. Put lots cracked black pepper in there too. It's very easy.

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  41. I had my first go at dry curing beginning last February starting with fennel salami and a coppa. The salami came out nicely; the coppa not so much.

    I tried coppa recently after leaving it in the curing chamber for approximately the recommended 6 months. The flavor, color, and aroma were fine, but it was so hard and tough as to be difficult to cut with a knife, not to mention chew. I plan to haggle the remainder into chunks (or perhaps grate it--it's that hard) and use in beans or soup.

    It was stuffed and tied in a beef bung and maintained at the correct temp and humidity. It lost over 50% of its initial weight.

    It's possible that I didn't have exactly the right cut. The shoulder I took it from had been boned and somewhat mangled in the process despite the fact that I got it, at considerable expense, from an "artisanal" butcher. Still, I would have expected any random chunk of shoulder to be tenderer.

    Any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated.

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  42. Andy, 50% loss is quite a bit. My current preference is 35-40% loss. But even then, you have to use your judgement and feel. If the piece if lean it'll feel different than if it's fattier.

    the % loss is not set in stone, just like the time is not. It's a combination of time, % and feel.

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  43. Thanks for the reply, Jason.

    OK, I made at least two errors.

    First, after taking another look at your pictures and pictures on <a href="http://ilovefood.fronza.net/2010/08/21/how-to-cut-a-coppa/>another blog</a>, I'm pretty sure I didn't have the coppa. I think I got the chunk that you labeled "Skin on this side" in your second picture, above. All the fat is on the outside, not dispersed through the meat.

    Second, I just left it in the curing chamber too long. A lot of what I read emphasizes the value of long curing for this type of meat, but clearly I went overboard. Still, the stuff tastes good if you can gnaw off a chunk. Maybe I should increase the humidity?

    I'm planning to try again over the winter. (I spend summers growing vegetables for the deer to eat--hey, you got any recipes for heirloom vegetable and melon fed venison?) This time around, I'll get the right cut and time the cure based on weight and feel rather than arbitrary time guidelines.

    I will also be doing more sausage. I want to do something with relatively mild seasoning so as to emphasize the pork flavor. My theory is get the pork right, then play with the seasoning. I'm thinking saucisson sec. Any suggestions?

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  44. Andy, increasing the humidity will help in allowing to dry it longer, but don't raise it too high or you'll have mold issues.

    Getting technique right before working with flavors and seasonings is a good idea.

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  45. I found this on my google search and wanted to make it. I didn't know what one of the items was - coppa and darn...I don't eat meat!

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  46. dose coppa need to be stuffed into a casing or can it just be tied like a roast?

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  47. It really should be cased to avoid molds on the meat and dry hard surfaces b

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  48. this is a nice cut, I do my primaries by starting between the 5th and 6th rib, making the coppa easy to obtain from the shoulder. Most butchers start between the 2nd and 3rd rib, pretty much wasting the coppa

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  49. I too just started the Coppa recipe in Charcuterie and have concerns.

    Today, it was time to recoat the cubes of meat with the other 1/2 of the curing mix. When I took it out of the dedicated fridge, I noticed that the meat had started to turn brown. No off smell to it, just a brown tint meat get's when exposed to air. The under side that was right against the bottom of the pan was a bright pink (what I was expecting). I thought that the Instacure would keep the meat pink regardless if it was exposed to a little air?

    So, thanks to your picture, I have figured out that the Coppa muscle, or pork collar is what I know to be the "money muscle" in the world of competition BBQ. So, I am off to get a boneless shoulder with that attached and do the recipe as a whole muscle.

    A few questions...

    1) Is the Instacure recipe ratios the same when using a whole muscle as in Characuterie?

    2) What would be the curing and drying time on say a 3 lb section of the muscle?

    I have the beef middles ordered and I plan of vacuum sealing the muscle with the cure to ensure that it doesn't turn color again.

    Any other suggestions or ideas?

    Thanks so much for your blog and insight!!!

    Tim

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  50. Tim, even with curing salts the meat will darken some when exposed to air, especially if the curing salts haven't had time to "act".

    Correct, this is the money muscle in the BBQ world.

    The curing salt ratio is always the same.

    It won't fit in beef middles. You need beef bungs

    drying time will be a month or 2 or 3 depending on a lot of factors. Curing time will be about 2 weeks.

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  51. Thanks, I had that feeling when I ordered the middles, but I was following the instructions of the recipe in the book. I shall order bungs in light of this. They should be here at about the same time as the new Coppa is done curing.

    I planned on having it ready for Thanksgiving dinner, so the timing should be just about right.

    So, the meat that is curing is fine then?

    Now what to do with cured pieces of cubed meat? Any suggestions?

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  52. You could grind the meat and add starter to it and make it into salame?

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  53. That's what I was thinking. Are there different kinds of starters? Just wondering what to look for on Amazon. Thanks for the help!

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