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Getting to the Meat of It, Favorite Italian Meats

As you’ve probably figured out…when it comes to Italians, food is a way of life. Special attention is given to each and every ingredient that used in Italian cooking. The meat is no exception!

Italian meats are made with select ingredients and an array of savory spices. Although Italian cooking can incorporate many different types of meats, the most prevalent in Southern Italian cuisine are pork products. Nobody gets more out of pork than Italians!

Here are just a few of our favorite ways to use pork in Italian cooking:

Soppressata – This is is a dry, Italian salami, and is a specialty of southern Italy. It often includes hot pepper (though, as with all salami, seasonings vary), and is usually served sliced, alongside other meats and cheese or served with crackers. (You can enjoy soppressata in our delicious antipasti salad!)

Prosciutto – This is a dry-cured, Italian ham that is usually thinly sliced and served uncooked. This style is called “prosciutto crudo” in Italian. It is distinguished from cooked ham, which is called “prosciutto cotto”.

Wikipedia quotes a writer on Italian food, Bill Buford, describing talking to an old Italian butcher, who says:

“When I was young, there was one kind of prosciutto. It was made in the winter, by hand, and aged for two years. It was sweet when you smelled it. A profound perfume. Unmistakable. To age a prosciutto is a subtle business. If it’s too warm, the aging process never begins. The meat spoils. If it’s too dry, the meat is ruined. It needs to be damp but cool. The summer is too hot. In the winter—that’s when you make salumi. Your prosciutto. Your soppressata. Your sausages.

At Rosedale, you can enjoy some of the best Prosciutto in our Toscano pizza, Pasta Faggioli soup and alla vodka sauce!

Pancetta – This is the Italian version of bacon. It is used in such dishes as our Amatriciana sauce or Italian bacon pizza.

Ground pork – Sometimes pork and ground beef are combined to create an unbelievable flavor. We use these two ingredients used in our bolognese as well as our famous meatballs.

Braciola – Nothing flavors up a meat sauce better than “braciola” – a pork or beef fillet wrapped around a tasty mix of cheese and Italian herbs.

Pork chops – For those “pork purists” out there, you may prefer to enjoy a juicy, delicious pork chop on its own. This popular meat is used in some of our daily specials, cooked many different ways, but always delicious.

Cooking Italian Food? Only Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Will Do!

Fruit such as tomatoes, eggplant, string beans and squash are often mistaken for vegetables because they are used in savory cooking. Grocery stores and cookbooks only add to the confusion by labeling and organizing produce according to culinary usage, rather than botanical classification. A basic rule of thumb: if the edible plant in question has seeds in it, it’s probably a fruit.

Fresh, fresh, fresh is the only way to go. Italians use many fruits and vegetables in their cooking, making Italian food not only flavorful, but one of the healthiest types of cuisines. The types of fruits and veggies used are what characterizes the regional differences in Italian food.

Southern Italian – Because the South is much warmer, with a much longer growing season, southern Italians use fruits that thrive under warmer conditions (like tomatoes!) For this reason, many dishes with red sauces are more popular in Southern Italian cuisine than Northern. Some other popular Southern fruits and vegetables include eggplant and broccoli rabe.

Northern Italian – In the Northern regions of Italy, vegetables that thrive in cooler temperatures and less sunlight are more popular. Some of these include:

  • Head cabbages
  • Black leaf kale
  • Cardoons
  • Radicchio

In both Italy and America, there are many fruits and vegetables that are used in fine Italian cooking. For example:

Eggplant – This is a versatile fruit, used in a variety of Italian dishes, and is one of the most prominent staples of Southern Italian cooking. It can have a slightly bitter taste when raw, but when it is cooked, it becomes very tender with a rich, complex flavor.

Greens (spinach, kale, chard, endive, escarole, chicory, etc) – Italian cooking uses greens that are flavorful and loaded with nutrients. The many greens that are a part of the Italian diet are also a great way to incorporate flavor and nutrition into the American diet. Radicchio or endive are popular in Italian cooking, but are also served raw in salads for tasty side dish.

Sweet bell peppers – These delicious peppers are used throughout Italy and are popular in the United States as well. Sweet bell peppers are wonderful for adding color, flavor, and nutrition to any fine Italian dish.

Pasta primavera without fresh veggies? Unheard of. And what’s an Insalata without fresh veggies…well, not Insalata for one thing. Broccoli rabe, spinach, portobello mushrooms, zucchini, arugula, squash, escarole, cucumbers, tomatoes…the list goes on and on. Rest assured that you’re eating healthy when enjoying our fruit and veggie dishes.