Making of Salami - A Day in Cascina

Unisg (University of Gastronomic Sciences) has created close relationships with local producers and farms.
For instance, our mensa (canteen) uses organic ingredients in each meal provided to us.
Thanks to GAS (Gruppo di Acquisto Solidale, so Group of Solidarity Purchase) it's possible to buy fresh products such as fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs, beer, directly from the producers, no freight brokers, except for a few students who organize the purchase and the meeting in order to take our food booty.

That's not all.
Making food experiences outside the university sphere is important as much as theoretical lessons and it's still part of our gastronomical education. So, why don't take advantages by spending a Sunday morning in cascina (Piedmontese farm)?
The short trip aimed to show how an artisanal salami or a fresh Salsiccia di Bra is made.
I was ready to wake up early on a non-working day, I was ready to take hundreds pictures and film crucial moments of the preparation, but I wasn't ready to wear a butcher apron and get my hands dirty.

Don't misunderstand me, I'm not complaining, in fact, joining the meat preparation in first person has been surprising and instructive, mostly after recognizing my natural incapacity to remove the "bad" fat from the pork meat with a knife.
Let's clarify: industrial salami are made with no concern about providing a product enjoyable from all the 5 senses point of view. Slaughter the pork, cut the meat parts and VOILA', basically you are ready to mince. Meanwhile, in our case it took time to cut off those filaments of fat that you can find in some salami, not palatable at all.

But, hey, let's move on.
While my friends kept helping the butcher boss, I decided to take my camera and do what I'm good at: filming, taking pictures and.. tasting!
Salsiccia di Bra is made with 2 parts of veal and 1 of bacon, and that's the reason why it can be eaten raw with no risk for the health. After seasoning the minced meat with salt, pepper, white wine and water, it's ready to be stuffed into the guts (usually made from small intestine for sausages).
A process harder than you think. Finesse and manual skill are fundamental qualities to obtain an uniform and smooth salsiccia, but my fellow students have aced the test.

Meanwhile, in the courtyard the left-over fat is being boiled to make strutto (lard), a dietary fat used in a few traditional Italian recipes such as Gnocco Fritto. After playing with a sweet kitten (for the records: I go crazy for cats and, whatever happens, as soon as I see one I just want to cuddle him/her) and being present at the plucking of a few hens (already dead), I went back inside to join the salami preparation.
The cold white room turned out to be a massage therapy saloon: two of my friends were gently massaging 92 kg of minced meat while a mixture of Nebbiolo red wine, nutmeg, cinnamon and juniper was spread on it.

After watching all this food in a cold room we started to feel hungry (or hangry?) and fortunately in a blink of an eye we've been called to reach the common room where a delicious homemade Piedmontese lunch was about to be served. Long wood tables full of fresh vegetables from the garden welcomed us, and along with bagna cauda (a Piedmontese dipping sauce made with garlic and anchovies) made the perfect combination.
Our lavish feast ended with a slice of bunet, a sort of pudding made with cocoa and amaretti. Well, in my case, I had more than a slice. Impossibile to resist it!

To see all the pictures took at La Cascina di PiediXTerra, click HERE.

You can find also a short video about this amazing day "All About The Pork":

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