If you haven’t heard of salumi yet and are a fan of cured meats, then there is no better time than the present to get on board with these Italian staples. Not to be confused with the term salami, salumi is actually a much broader term used to describe a collection of meats that can be enjoyed on salads, sandwiches, appetizer dishes and anywhere in between.
Salumi vs Charcuterie
Salumi is a term to describe a wide range of different Italian-style meats. They are typically salted, cured or preserved and while salumi is most often pork, it can be virtually any type of fermented meat.
Just like charcuterie, salumi is a term to described cured meats that tend to use multiple parts of the animal and it is a term to describe a number of individual styles, types and flavors of meat popular among local cuisine.
However, charcuterie is a French word, that typically refers to cooked meats such as pates. The Italian version of charcuterie actually isn’t salumi, it is known as affettati.
Salumi is not the same thing as salami either, and it isn’t a plural term for multiple pieces of salami (that is a term known as salame). While some may get the two terms mixed up, they are actually quite different.
What is the difference between Salumi and Salami?
While the spellings of these two terms have some similarities, salumi is actually a term used to describe a number of different types of Italian-styled cured meats. In other words, salami is a type of salumi.
The Different Types of Salumi Explained
Not all type of salumi are the same. In fact, there are so many different meats that fall under the salumi name, that telling them apart can sometimes be a challenge.
Here is a basic rundown of some of the most common types of salumi, what they are and how best to enjoy them.
Bresaola- This is one of the few types of salumi that is made with beef. It is dark, almost purple in color and has a tough texture from being aged, salted and air dried for months.
How to Enjoy it: Eat thin slices covered in lemon juice or dipped in olive oil.
Capacollo- This cured meat is made from a hog and is covered with hot paprika for a real kick.
How to Enjoy it: Capacolla is typically served in very thin slices, often with pickles.
Coppa- Coppa is very similar in look and flavor to capacolla, but it comes from a different region in Italy (Emilia Romanga). It is also cured from hog neck muscle and seasoned with paprika or a similar flavor.
How to Enjoy it: Eat paper-thin slices on their own or on an Italian sandwich.
Culatello- Often hailed as a true Italian delicacy, it may be hard to find this type of salumi in the United States. Culatello is made with the mat from the rear legs of a pig and has a flavor that is all its own.
How to Enjoy it: Nibble on small pieces of Culatello on their own or eat it as an appetizer with bread.
Lardo- Not to be confused with lard, this cured meat comes from pigs in the Aosta Valley that are fed a very specific diet that includes vegetables and chestnuts. The result is a rich, almost sweet flavor
How to Enjoy it: Pile it on your morning toast with a sweet topping like syrup or honey.
Mocetta- This cured meat is made with wild game like deer, goat or boar, giving it a distinct flavor.
How to Enjoy it: Eat as antipasto.
Mortadella- The Italian version of bologna, this meat is made with ground pork and lardon and is often seasoned with nutmeg or pepper.
How to Enjoy it: Eat it in thin slices on your favorite sandwich
Pancetta- Often called Italy’s Bacon, this cured meat is a made of pork belly.
How to Enjoy it: Eat it like American bacon or use as a cooking ingredient to add flavor.
Proscuitto- This is a dry-cured type of ham that is typically made of wild boar or pig and comes with a sweet flavor.
How to Enjoy it: Eat it uncooked (crudo) as antipasto or cooked (cotto) on your favorite Italian sub.
Sopressata- A dry-cured pork that is typically made into sausage.
How to Enjoy it: Eat it as your breakfast protein, on a sandwich or in your favorite salad.
Salami Piccante- This Italian meat is similar to what American’s call pepperoni and has a distinct color and red-pepper flavor.
How to Enjoy it: Add it to your favorite sandwich or sprinkle it on your pizza.
Speck- Made from dry-salted hog legs, speck is known for its smoky, rich flavor.
How to Enjoy it: Similar to bacon, it can be devoured in almost anything, ranging from sandwiches to your favorite morning meat.
While many American diners are unfamiliar with the term salumi, if you really want to impress your dinner crowd next time you order antipasta, order salumi. You won’t only look like an Italian cuisine know-it-all, but you will get to enjoy a delectable offering of some of the best Italian meats around.