What Is Mortadella?

What Is Mortadella?

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that Italian food ALWAYS hits the spot. Italy is home to some of the finest foods in the world; from pizza and risotto to coffee and pasta, there’s no shortage of fine delicacies to feast on. 

What Is Mortadella?

There’s another food that deserves a place on that list: cured meats. Italian cured meats are famous the whole world over, but there’s one that doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves: mortadella.

Mortadella is often outshone by other cured meats such as prosciutto, but we’re here to give it the appreciation it deserves. Here’s everything you need to know about mortadella. 

What Is Mortadella? 

Mortadella is a type of large Italian sausage meat (or luncheon meat) that’s made from cured pork, chopped pistachios, myrtle berries, and black pepper. Sometimes, mortadella also contains olives.

Mortadella has a distinctively speckled appearance, which is often the result of its fat content, pistachios, and even the black peppercorns mixed in with the meat.

Mortadella originates from Bologna, Italy and you’ll often hear the American version of this delicacy being called bologna or boloney. 

The word mortadella originates from the Latin ‘mortarium’ (or mortar), which refers to the tool used to beat the meat. It could also originate from the Latin term ‘farcimen myrtatum’, which is a type of sausage flavored with berries. 

How Is Mortadella Made? 

Mortadella is traditionally prepared using machines that mince the pork until it’s finely ground.

Then, previously cooked cubes of fat (which are extracted from the pig’s throat) are added to the mix and sprinkled with salt and spices, including the traditional pepper and myrtle berries.

Once blended together, the mixture is compacted into one large casing and hung in an oven where it cooks for around 24 hours. Mortadella is usually cooked in large 15kg batches. 

Once it has finished cooking, the mortadella is then cooled with water; this gives the meat its unique texture and blend. 

When it was first created, mortadella was beaten with a mortar, and spices were not that common: they were reserved for the wealthy and nobility.

However, technological advancements in the 19th century made making mortadella less labor-intensive, and more accessible to all. 

What Does Mortadella Taste Like? 

Mortadella tastes rich and fatty, with slight undertones of spice and pistachio. The dominant flavor is pork, which is often intense and rich.

When you eat mortadella, you’ll also notice its texture, which is smooth and silky, unlike other cured meats which can be harsher. 

Varieties Of Mortadella 

What Is Mortadella?

You may also come across a few varieties of mortadella: mortadella and mortadella bologna. If you’re not too familiar with mortadella, you may struggle to tell the difference. However, mortadella bologna is made in the Emilia-Romagna of Italy.

Mortadella Bologna will often use different ratios of spice and fat compared to mortadella, giving it a slightly different taste and texture. Although it’s subtle, it’s easy to identify if you’re familiar with traditional mortadella. 

Is Mortadella Good For Your Health? 

Although mortadella contains cubes of fat, these are often unsaturated and have a similar makeup to the fats found in olive oil. In other words, this means you won’t have to feel too guilty when you eat mortadella.

It has fairly low levels of cholesterol and averages around the same content as a serving of turkey or chicken. It’s also low in calories but high in protein (and still totally delicious), which makes it a great choice for those watching their waistline.

However, mortadella is traditionally served with bread, so if you’re watching your carb intake, you may have to enjoy it another way. 

Here are some more health benefits of mortadella: 

  • It provides vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6 which are good for the metabolism, mood regulation, and the nervous system 
  • It’s a good source of iron
  • Can help repair and build muscles due to its high protein content 
  • Contains essential and non-essential amino acids: non-essential amino acids can also help synthesize neurotransmitters and benefit our nervous systems 

Note: the fat and calorie content of other varieties of mortadella may vary. Always check with your supplier to determine the ingredients and calorie content. 

How To Serve Mortadella 

There are many ways to serve mortadella, but it’s traditionally eaten with bread(see also: Pao De Queijo). You can also enjoy it alone, or by pairing it with cheese. Sometimes, mortadella is turned into a mousse and mixed with soft cheese, which many people enjoy. 

There’s so much to love about mortadella, and it’s extremely versatile so you’ll have plenty of ways to enjoy it. Mortadella can be eaten as an antipasti, served in a main course, or something else.

Because it has a strong porky flavor with subtle spiced undertones, it also goes well with most cheeses, including ricotta. 

Not sure how to eat your mortadella? We’d encourage you to explore your tastes, and try this delicious meat (see also: What Is Capicola?)with a variety of other foods, or on its own! You’re bound to find a way of enjoying mortadella that works for you. 

Can You Eat Mortadella Raw? 

Mortadella is served cold cut, so you can enjoy it as it is! However, if you prefer, you can also fry (see also: What Is Calamari?)your slices before eating them for a crispier texture, and deeper flavor. The choice is yours. 

How To Store Mortadella 

Once opened, keep your mortadella in an airtight container, and store it in the fridge for up to one week. 

Final Thoughts 

Mortadella is often eclipsed by the popularity of other cured meats, but we’re here to tell you that this unique meat is definitely worth trying.

If you love pork and spices, there’s nothing you won’t enjoy about mortadella! Plus, it’s so versatile that you can eat it in almost any way you desire.

Whether you want a snack, an appetizer, or something different to include in a main course, mortadella is here to save the day. So, what are you waiting for? Enjoy mortadella today! 

What Is Mortadella And What Does It Taste Like?