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One of the questions we get asked often is what capicola is. You may have seen capicola listed on many menus, whether you are in a sandwich shop, or a pizzeria, and not know exactly what it is or what it tastes like.
The good news is that capicola is actually delicious, and can be eaten in a variety of ways. Here, we’ll go over exactly what Capicola is, its other names, and what you can serve with Capicola!
What Is Capicola?
Capicola is also known as coppa, capocollo, cotto, or even called Gababgool by New York Italian Americans! This may be why there is so much confusion as to what capicola is.
Capicola is a traditional Italian and Cosican cold cut meat. It is made from dry cured muscle, that is typically sold as a whole muscle salume but is sliced thinly to be enjoyed as a snack or on a pizza.
Capicola is often smoked, but the version called coppa cotta is slow roasted for a more tender flavor. It is a little bit fatty, as fat runs through the meat, but this only adds to the flavor.
It is also delicately spiced, and has a slightly smoky flavor. When it is sliced thinly, it can work great as an addition to a charcuterie board.
Capicola is typically cured for around 10 days, before being coated in black pepper, coriander, anise, fennel seeds, and is slow roasted to become tender.
Capicola first originated in Piacenza in the north region of Italy, but can also be found in the south region of Calabria.
Today, you can find Capicola in deli sandwiches, sold in Artisan Deli meat stores, or in pizza restaurants.
Is Capicola A Salami?
Capicola is often served with the likes of prosciutto and salami, so it is common for people to refer to it as salami.
As mentioned earlier, capicola is a whole muscle salume that is dry cured and sliced thin, but it is more similar to cured ham or prosciutto and other pork cold cuts than salami, despite their similarities in appearance.
This is because salami tends to have a more acidic tang due to the fermentation process it undergoes. In comparison, capicola does not ferment, so it does not taste acidic.
Salami is also a type of cured sausage, (see also: What Is Mortadella?)whereas capicola more closely resembles dry cured ham in flavor.
What Type Of Meat Is Capicola?
Capicola is derived from the prized cut of the neck and shoulder of a pig, so it is pork. The most similar meats to capicola are likely prosciutto, pancetta, speck, bresaola, culatello, and guanciale.
It is said that capicola gets its name from the direct area that the meat is taken from. For example, capo means the head, and collo means the shoulder, which is where you’ll find this tasty Italian cured cold cut.
Capicola is so prized because of its perfect ratio of 70% lean meat to 30% fat. When dry-cured for ten days, and covered in a delicate blend of spices, this meat can be truly delicious.
What Is The Difference Between Capicola And Prosciutto?
Due to their similarities, capicola and prosciutto are often used interchangeably, and confused for one another, but they are not actually the same thing.
While both are classed as a whole-muscle salume, they come from very different parts of the pig, and are dry-cured in different ways, so they do have their own unique flavors and characteristics.
For example, capicola is often covered in herbs and spices and left to cure. Salt is then washed off from the meat, and it is seasoned additionally with red and black pepper, fennel, coriander, and even sometimes paprika. Then, it can be left to dry cure for up to six months.
In comparison, prosciutto comes from the leg of the pig. This ham is often cooked before curing, or can be left uncooked. How prosciutto is seasoned depends on the region it comes from.
For instance, Prosciutto Di Parma and Prosciutto Di San Daniele are just cured with salt, whereas Prosciutto Tuscano may have rosemary, juniper and black pepper added.
As a result, capicola tends to be a more delicate meat as it is taken from the neck and shoulder, with a shorter curing time due to the smaller cut, whereas prosciutto comes from the leg.
Capicola also has a lower fat content, whereas prosciutto can have more fat and melts in your mouth.
What To Serve With Capicola
If you want to try capicola, then there are a few ways that you can enjoy this meat. The most common way is to create a charcuterie board, or in an Italian sub.
This way, you can also enjoy a mixture of capicola and prosciutto and decide which one you love the most.
These meats pair well with a range of cheese such as provolone, gruyere, or cheddar, along with some green and black olives, and some crusty bread like ciabatta.
You can also use thinly sliced capicola and add it as a topping to your homemade pizzas, along with some salami, roasted tomatoes, mozzarella and hot peppers for a burst of flavor.
Capicola is a dried meat, so it is safe to eat raw (see also: Can You Eat Zucchini Raw?)without cooking it, so you can simply snack on it if you just want to try tasting it!
To summarize, capicola is a type of cold cut that is derived from the neck and shoulder of the pig, before being dry-cured with spices for added flavor. It has a great ratio of lean meat to fat, making it delicious, and perfect for Italian subs or pizzas(see also: Best Pizza In Brooklyn).
Capicola is often confused with prosciutto, but they are different, so why not add them both to your next charcuterie nibble board, and see the difference for yourself?
Capicola is one of our favorite Italian cold cuts. You’ve got to eat it to believe it.
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