Saturday, January 21, 2012

Capocollo di Calabria

20120121-IMG_6743 In the southern part of Italy what’s “coppa” in the north is called “capocollo”. That’s where the American term “capicola” or “gabagool” comes from. Most of the Italian immigrants to the US were from Southern Italy, bringing with them the term and product “capocollo”
I’ve already gone through the whole coppa making process in a previous post, but this one is slightly different. My buddy Scott at Sausage Debauchery, who’s family is original from Calabria, is a Calabrian FREAK. He’s so obsessed with the place that he opened a store to source and resell Calabrian chili pepper and other goodies. All I hear from him is how Calabrian cured meats are the best, tastiest, blah blah blah. Mostly in an effort to shut him up, I made a capocollo following the Calabrian DOP production methodology.
Screen shot 2012-01-21 at 10.46.22 AM Capocollo di Calabria is pretty interesting in how it’s made. As you can see above the cure is done very simply with just salt and Cure. After its salting period it’d then rinsed in vinegar and rubbed in peperoncino/chili powder (Calabrian please! Cayenne is not an acceptable substitute!)
I’m guessing the rinsing in vinegar is an old world remnant when it was done to make sure the meat surface was as “clean” from bacteria as possible before entering its long drying phase. Now days I think it’s just done as part of tradition as i can’t imagine a rinse in vinegar could impart that much flavor.

IMG_3584 Nice whole coppa muscle. Big one too, 2688g! Didn’t do much trimming to this
IMG_3586 Salt, cure and that’s it. I’ve been putting stuff to salt cure in vacuum bags. I like how it keeps everything clean, no leaks and makes sure all the salt is in contact with the meat during the cure.
20110712-IMG_4341 After cure. Meat looks pretty similar. Rinsed and dried.
20110712-IMG_4343 Vinegar rinse and then heavily rubbed with Calabrian peperoncino.
20110712-IMG_4345 The muscle is cased in “pelle di sugna”, which is a casing made from the lining of the inner walls of the pig organ cavity.
You can’t get it here, as far as i know. I don’t even know the name for it in English.

I suggest a beef bung as a substitution.
20110712-IMG_4348 Tied and ready for the fermentation box for 48 hours at 75 deg F.
20120121-IMG_6741 A quick 3.5 months in teh curing chamber and the capocollo had lost about 45% of its weight.
The chamber was running around 75% RH at 55 deg. F.
20120121-IMG_6737 Sliced thin, it’s delicious!
The capocollo is deeeeelicious! It’s a little salty, so I think iIll lower the salt content next time. The peperoncino is barely detectable. I would like it a little spicier. I think I’ll try curing it with peperoncino as well as rubbing it before casing, see if i get a little more heat.


scott said...

Add flakes as well next time. I've had similar problems. What happens is, while casing, the wet casing rubs a lot of powder off.

Jasonmolinari said...

thanks scott, i'll add some flakes next time too

Zach said...

Good to see a new post, dude!

Mike Cockerham said...

Looks great Jason

How do you store any left overs?


Jasonmolinari said...

long term storage i vac pack. short term just plastic wrap and zip lock

Mike M said...

Looks Great!! How long did you leave it in the salt, cure?

Mike M

Jasonmolinari said...

Good question Mike...i have to look at my notes, but i think about 20 days

Diego Herrera said...

Looks great! I will try to do it with spanish paprika (Unfortunatedly, calabrese products are not available here in Colombia)

Jasonmolinari said...

A nice flavorful spanish or hungarian HOT paprika could work nicely as a forced substitute.

really any nice flavorful pepper powder will work, but the calabrian is particularly tasty.

Al Letizio said...

Really looks great. May I ask why this went through the fermentation stage? I did not see any starter culture added in your recipe.

Jasonmolinari said...

Al, i believe it helps kick start the lactic bacteria on teh meat which then help break down the nitrates to nitrites.
It also helps adhere the casing to the meat.

Anonymous said...

How would this turn out without the casing?

Jasonmolinari said...

I don't know. Why not use a casing?

David Konecny said...

Thanks for your blog entries Jason! Very inspirational. I'm new in the craft and loving it. As well as your blog.

Could I have one question please? Why did you place the capocollo in your fermentation box for two days? I would think that such step make sense only when some fermenting cultures are involved to boost their activity.


Jasonmolinari said...

David, i answered this exact question 2 comments above:

"i believe it helps kick start the lactic bacteria on teh meat which then help break down the nitrates to nitrites.
It also helps adhere the casing to the meat."

Anonymous said...


I ordered pig bladders from Butcher and Packer for my culatello. They sent me "laminated pig bladders" which do not appear to be at all the same as the pig bladder -- judging from that video on your culatello post. The laminated pig baldder (after it is soaked) ends up very thin, so thin in fact that you can not sew it like the pig bladder si sewn up for culatello. It looks a lot like the “pelle di sugna” you used in this coppa. I used the laminated pig bladder for the culatello but if you are looking for something similar to the “pelle di sugna” you should check them out if you are not familiar with them.

Any idea where to get a regular pig bladder?

Jasonmolinari said...

Check with Scott Stegen at Sausage Debauchery. HE had some bladders for sale.

hotsauce said...

Have you ever used a flavor/color enhancing fermentation culture on a solid encased muscle, such as cs 299 or cp 277? I thought this would be the appropriate place for this question since a couple of people asked the reason for the fermentation chamber for a solid muscle.
Last week I opened a small coppa that I cured and encased the regular way, except that I used cs 299 on the outside of the meat in liquid form before I encased it.
The coppa was delicious and the texture was phenomenal.
The interesting thing is that it has a slightly yeasty hint in the background.
I see no reason why the flavor enhancing bacteria wouldnt penetrate the muscle and do their magic, just curious if you or anyone else has done this as well.

Jasonmolinari said...

hotsauce, i haven't heard or know anything about the cultures you mention. Where are they available?

I've only used mold sprays on the outside of muscle meats.

hotsauce said...

Butcher and packer, but you have to ask for them, they do not list them.
One is c-p 77s, one is cs 299, the third is T-spx which you already know about.
Basically read about the bacteria in Marianski's book "Art of fermented sausages". There are basically three classes of beneficial bacteria used for curing meats: lactic acid producing, color and flavor enhancing, and one other kind that kills the bad guys, can't remember the details.
These 3 classes are present in the 3 formulas above.
Yes they are for fermented sausages, but I thought why not try them on solid muscles as well, under the casing?
So I have 3 big spella's hanging right now, all cured the same, except they each have one of the different cultures above, so I'll be able to tell a difference when they are aged should be 3 mo or so more, they already have been hanging for 2 mo.
This way we will see what the effects are of the different cultures.

Jasonmolinari said...

Interesting experiment. Never thought to add cultures (other than the penecillium mold spray) to solid muscles.
Clearly different strains of mold have different flavor properties which is why the same salame made in different places will taste different.

Let us know!

hotsauce said...

Sure thing!

Unknown said...

Ciao scusa per le domande in italiano pero ho piu dimestichezza con i termini di norcineria in questa lingua. Voglio fare il capocollo pero e impossibile trovare nel mio paese il budello adatto. Si puo fare altrimenti? In un blog ho letto che si lega con la carta da macelleria e poi con la carta paglia prima di stagionarlo. Grazie in anticipo

Jasonmolinari said...

carta da macelleria direi di no. So che c'e' gente che usa i teli per fare il formaggio.

Jeff said...

I notice that some coppa recipes in the US recommend 4.5% salt as per usda suggestion. What is your thoughts on that?

Jasonmolinari said...

I find that much salt to be too satly. I used to use more, but i've progressively lowered teh amount.
remember as you lose water weight the salt % increases. So a 4.5% initial salt, and a 40% weight loss will end up at 7.5% salt at the end. That's a lot of salt.
i am comfortable with the safety of the meat based on a 3-3.5% salt load and a water activity reduction by drying.

Jeff said...

Thanks Jason! I have just recently started curing meats and I guess I wanted to be sure on safety. I actually seen the statement on Len Poli's coppa recipe. Funny thing though most of his recipes are around 3% salt. I really enjoy your blog.


Jasonmolinari said...

the 4.5% is probably a CYA statement..which i can understand.

Anonymous said...

A few things caught my interest here.

1: the casing you have questions about would seem to be this:

(saw it mentioned here,

No clue where you could get it in the US though, but hopefully that helps you in your journey.

2: why use the nitrates on a capocollo? It is my understanding that with the exception of bacon, in which its applied to keep the colour mostly, most whole meats do not need this treatment, as the 'bad stuff' can not penetrate a whole muscle (accoring to Ruhlman in his 'salumeria' book). I'm not particularly scared of them, but in my mind the less nitrates / nitrates in something the better.

3: I find it shocking you kept it in the salt cure for 20 whole days. In my experience even a day or two more than needed and the meat becomes terrible salty. I have been using the 'salt box' method, and my assumption is that the actual amount of salt (for whole muscle application) makes no difference in the end result; what matters is the amount of time the meat spends soaking it in. In other words, if you dumped a whole box on it, it could only suck up so much, given the time and osmosis going on, so the discussion of salt to meat % , in this scenario, seems a bit unnecessary. The ratio of salt seems much more applicable to ground meat. I hope that makes sense, its tough to describe.

Having said all that, I think your finished results look great, and I really enjoy your blog, keep up the good work!

Jasonmolinari said...

thanks for the info on thecasing.

As far as the salt discussion, please see my post on equilibrium curing vs. excess salt (salt box) curing.

Nitrates are not technically necessary on whole muscles, but i feel better using them, for safety, color and flavor.

Unknown said...

This post is rather old, but another reason to put whole muscle meats into a fermentation chamber is because most fermentation chambers will have a higher relative humidity. Placing the meat directly into your curing chamber can cause a pellicle to form and inhibit water loss.

Don F said...

Don F asks can a person use the coppa muscle from a wild boar pig to make a capocola ? My concern is this is not a cooked product, and are there inherent bacteria to contend with. Thanks

AlchemyintheKitchen said...

two quick questions? You talk about the casing as the lining of the inside of pigs body cavity. Would caul fat work? Or is it something else?

What is the point of the fermentation step? Without having added a culture, and having dipped it in vinegar, is there really a fermentation and pH drop that takes place? Was it noticeable? I am always intrigued by fermentation of whole muscles, even if inoculated, it seems pointless. Can you help me understand better? Thank you!

Jasonmolinari said...

caul fat would be quite different. I'm not sure if it would work.

The "fermentation" isn't technically a fermentation. It's a chance for the product to quickly lose excess water from the casing and the curing before going into the chamber. It helps the casing adhere to the meat as well.