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With a rose pink colour and with a pungent, spicy and unmistakable aroma, Mortadella Bologna PGI, is a cylindrical sausage made from pure pork meat, so famous that a Pantone swatch has also been dedicated to it and its unique colour.
History of Mortadella
Famous all over the world, mortadella has an ancient history, originating from an ideal territory: the woods rich in oak forests in the area between Emilia-Romagna and Lazio. Here the local pigs, wild and domesticated, fed on acorns. For a period of time the mortadella fell out of favour, but reappeared in the late Middle Ages, produced exclusively in Bologna. In the city’s Archaeological Museum, there is a stele from the Roman period depicting seven piglets being led to pasture and a mortar with pestle, as proof of the ancient origin of mortadella.
It also explains the name, which comes from “mortaium” in fact, an indispensable tool for rendering pork meat. We know for sure that by 1661 the Salaroli and the Lardaroli companies joined together to protect mortadella and that it was Cardinal Farnese who first established the price. Since 2001 it is this Consortium that protects the product, which is one of the most falsified of all. Only Mortadella Bologna can boast the PGI mark.
Where is Mortadella from?
The production area of Mortadella Bologna PGI includes the territory of Emilia Romagna, Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, the province of Trento, Tuscany, Marche and Lazio.
The all-Italian art of Lardaroli meets the Nordic custom of cooking and stuffing pork. Everything starts with an excellent quality pork meat, such as the shoulder and trimmings of noble cuts, (left over from shaping hams and speck.
The meat is finely chopped without exceeding the temperature of 1 degree centigrade, so as not to heat up. Then it is flavoured with peppercorns, spices and aromatic plants (pistachios are also allowed) and the white lardelli present in all mortadella are added, which represent about 15% of the product.
Lardelli are cubes of fat from the throat of the pig. It is their presence that gives this salami its characteristic sweetness. The meat is stuffed into natural or synthetic blisters, from 1 kilo to 10 kilos in size. This is followed by stewing at about 70 degrees, an hour per kilo. A cold shower and a stabilisation phase follow. From that moment the mortadella is ready to be sliced.
How to use mortadella In the kitchen
A good mortadella can be recognised, if we cannot see the Consortium label, with an intense aroma, which derives from the right cooking and composition. The aromas of black pepper, cinnamon, coriander and nutmeg can be recognised. Then the colour: it must be a deep pink with white fat cubes. All shades that tend to pale grey are evidence of poor value cuts or poor preservation.
The trick is to choose large mortadella because they need more cooking time, which intensifies the taste. It should never be sliced too thinly and should be folded onto the plate, to allow air to circulate in the folds of the slice. The slice should not melt in the mouth but offer some resistance to chewing.
Mortadella food pairings
Mortadella works very well in sandwiches, combining well with other flavours. Try it with hot mozzarella; with gorgonzola and radishes; with salad and olive patè or with ricotta, raspberries and pistachios.
Here the best pairing is the one with a wine from the same territory, a Bonarda, a lively Barbera or a Lambrusco, wines with alcohol and softness perfectly contrast the greasiness and spiciness present in mortadella.