|Mirco Bertini and Elena Bertucci||Via Canale 52, Molicciara, Castelnuovo Magra. Italy|
|Antica Salumeria Elena e Mirco||http://www.prosciuttacastelnovese.com|
Different types of cured meats. Two are their specialty (only they make it!): the ‘prosciutta castelnovese’, a kind of prosciutto, and the ‘larsciac’, lard ripened in wine marc.
Mirco and his mother Elena make mainly three types of cured meats: fresh (e.g. sausages), semi-matured (e.g. their ‘mortadella nostrale’, a local kind of salami) and matured (e.g the prosciutta).
I especially focused my questions on the way Mirco makes the prosciutta, as it is my personal favorite among his products.
Though both normal prosciuttO and the prosciuttA are made using pork legs, there is a substantial difference in the way the meat is cured. To make his prosciutta Mirco opens the leg, de-bones it and takes away the skinnier parts of the meat. He does this because these parts mature in a different way than the fatter parts (which taste better anyway).
Once the meat is prepared he covers it with spices found in the area and then hangs it in his cellar – which always remains at a set temperature of 13-15° C – to mature. After the first three months he’ll take it down to add some more spices and massage it with olive oil.
The ‘youngest’ prosciutta he serves has matured for 9 months, but he has kept some to age up to 14 years.
In a year, he makes around 200 prosciutte.
Mirco’s busy making ‘pancetta’ spiced with orange, cinnamon and other spices so I use the opportunity to take some pictures of him at work (see in the gallery:).
He knows I am a big fan of his prosciutta, so he agrees to explain a bit of how he invented one of the products that began to make him famous. In fact, he is the only one is in Italy that makes this type of cured meat and he has patented the recipe.
His mother, Elena, first opened the salumeria in 1967; around a decade after, Mirco joined her, bringing with him an air of freshness and creativity, from which the Prosciutta Castelnovese emerged in 1997, ready to be patented and already very appreciated by all those who had had the luck of tasting it.
The name, I am told, was given by the clients themselves: indeed, to distinguish it from the normal prosciutto Elena and Mirco also made, the women had changed the ‘o’ into an ‘a’ – when Mirco had to choose how to call it, he had no doubts.
Could you find it at La Sosta?
Obviously. It’ll be a part of the tasting of local cured meats and cheeses present in our ‘ardesia’ menu.
We also buy his ‘mortadella nostrale’ (salami), which you’ll be able to taste at breakfast. Though I talk a lot about the prosciutta, he carefully prepares all of his products and his salami is one of the best I’ve ever tasted.