Whether stuffed into a deli sandwich or laid out on a charcuterie board, salami is an umami-packed flavor bomb that we just can’t get enough of.
History of Salami
Though salami is usually associated with a specific kind of sausage, it’s actually more accurately described as a category of cured meat. In its native Italy, the name salami or salame roughly translates to “salted meats” and encompasses a wide variety of cured meats produced throughout Europe, from pepperoni to chorizo. In the United States, the name evolved over time to refer to the classic Italian cured pork sausage most of us recognize today.
What does Salami Taste Like?
Salami has a complex and savory flavor profile. It’s a medley of meaty, salty, and sweet with notes of aromatic garlic and piquant spices. These strong flavors are mellowed out by a pungent tanginess that permeates the whole sausage. Variations in seasoning and aging times also influence slight changes in taste and texture across the different types of salami.
How is Salami Made?
The process of making salami involves stuffing the meat (typically pork, but some varieties use beef) and seasonings into the casing, fermenting the sausages for a few days, and dry aging them for a few weeks to months. The longer the salami is aged, the more its flavors and texture are developed. One version of the sausage, salami cotto, is smoked and boiled rather than cured.
How to Use Salami
Savory, salty, and rich with fatty flavor, salami can either be the star of the dish or a wonderful complement to other ingredients depending on how you use it. When assembling a sandwich, use pillowy white bread and creamy mozzarella to highlight salami’s pungent flavor or tangy sourdough and sharp pecorino to harmonize with the cured sausage’s undertones. Apply the same logic when adding salami to your charcuterie boards, pasta, and even salads.
Salami generally doesn’t cook well as the fat in the meat ends up melting and the meat itself becomes tougher. Focus on the thickness of your slices instead for the best method of preparing salami. Use thinner slices for soft salami and generous thick cuts for hard varieties.