Capicola is also known as capocollo coppa or gabagool, a lightly spiced fatty smoked cold cut. It is spiced and smoked pork shoulder cure in natural casing.
Most people confuse it with prosciutto, but it is a cross between sausage and prosciutto. It is mainly found in Italian and gourmet food shops. It is also one of the best meats for sandwiches because of the delicious taste.
Capicola is easily accessible meat which you can find even in smaller-scale producers like Portland’s Olympic Provisions if you are looking to stock up. The meat starts at the slid muscle between the head (capo) and includes the pork shoulder’s fifth or fourth rib (collo).
People mostly use it in sandwiches, pasta, and antipasti platters. To make an excellent delicious capicola slice, the secret is the combination of herbs and spices, which include garlic, paprika, and white/red wine.
After the seasoning, it is stuffed into a natural casing and hang for a couple of months for curing. There are different varieties of the cold cut whee the basic one is seasoned with red wine, herbs, garlic, and spices.
The herbs used differ according to the region of Italy. Some use thyme, laurel leaves, almonds, and Mediterranean spices. Piedmontese capicola is made by slowly roasting the meat to produce dry coppa that is chewier than other cooked versions.
After seasoning it, the meat is salted and rolled in a natural casing, and hung up to cure for 3-6 months. Pretty long time? This is necessary so that the delicate flavors and fatty texture are achieved to make the meat tender.
Knowing you got a good capicola cut of meat has a good balance of pork meat and white fat. Curing is a process of preserving meats by either smoking, drying, or salting the meat.
This used to be the method people used when there wasn’t refrigeration to be eaten all through long periods. While all meats can be cured, pork becomes tender when cured this way.
It takes on a new texture when the moisture is dried out, stopping the growth of bacteria. The curing happens when you use salt, sugar, and nitrites in addition to the herbs we discussed above.
It is either rubbed on the surface or dissolved in water that makes the meat’s brine.
Homemade Capicola Recipe
Below is a recipe for how to cure and age capicola at home.
- 5.5 lbs. pork neck
- Vacuum bag
- 5 tbsp. salt
- Butcher’s twine
- 1tbsp Prague powder
- ¼ tsp paprika
- 1 tbsp. white sugar
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tbsp. black pepper
- ¼ tbsp. juniper berries
- Put the juniper berries and black pepper into a grinder and grind till fine, then put into a bowl. Add the Prague powder and blend.
- Put the pork neck on a flat surface, lightly pound it, and then roll tightly, keeping the two edges even.
- Tie around the boned rolled pig meat using the butcher’s twine to hold it firmly in place to help keep its shape while it’s curing. It will have an even balance of fat and meat when it is rolled, making it tender and easy to cut across the grain.
- Place the rolled meat into a roasting pan and sprinkle the dried rub over the meat, making sure to turn and pat the herbs into the surface to coat evenly. Make sure it is thicker than what you use on other meat.
- Open the vacuum bag and carefully place the meat inside and seal it tightly. A Ziploc bag is fine too. Place it in the fridge and cure for 6 to 10 days turning the bag once a day while it cures.
- After your ten days, take it out of the bag, rinse it out using cold water, and then pat the dry meat surface using a paper towel.
- After that, take the meat, place it onto a rack, and place it in a suitable environment of temperatures 57 degrees Fahrenheit to 65 degrees where the humidity is 60 to 70 percent. For this, you can buy chambers made, especially for curing meat, which monitors the temperature and humidity for you.
- When curing, the meat will form a crust on the outside of the capicola. Please don’t panic; it is totally normal.
- Let it age for six weeks, remove the rack, cut away the butcher’s twine, and then slice thinly.
Hot Capicola Recipe
If your preference is hot and spicy, all you need to do is modify the spices and herbs. Add the types of pepper you would want, like the black pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper, to the basic salt mixture for curing or for every 2.75 lbs of pork blend:
- 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp. paprika
- ½ tbsp. black pepper
- 1 tbsp. red pepper flakes
- ½ tbsp. smoked chili ancho
Add all this and blend, then continue to rub it on the meat for curing.
Umai Capicola Recipe
Before we get into the recipe, let’s first know what UMAi Dry is. It is a unique, scientifically proven technology chef-tested that allows one to create custom dry-aged steak and dry-cured meats at home.
- Get your pork butt for capicola and weigh out 3% kosher salt and 0.25% Instacure using your digital scale, then coat the meat with your cure and herbs. Rest the cured meat for two weeks in a vacuum bag in the fridge.
- After the two weeks are over, rinse the cure off and apply the UMAi Dry as per the instructions making sure the meat is moist to make it easy for the UMAi Dry membrane to stick to.
- Weigh the meat and take note of the start weight and the targeted weight noted on the casing. Your supposed target weight loss for the meat is 40% of your meat’s original weight. Place it on a wire rack in your fridge for six weeks.
- Through the six weeks, the meat will harden and darken. After you reach the targeted weight, vacuum seal it for several days to allow the moisture to equalize through the whole meat.
Capicola Sandwich Recipe
This is a simple sandwich recipe using slices of capicola.
- 2 tsp mayonnaise of your choice
- One ciabatta sandwich roll, split
- One cheese slice
- Two thin slices of capicola
- 1 tbsp. chopped sweet cherry peppers
- Heat your grill or skillet pan and fill the bread slices with capicola slices, peppers, and your cheese.
- Spread outside of the sandwich you just assembled with mayonnaise and grill 2-3 minutes until the cheese melts and the bread is golden brown on both sides. Gently press the top of the sandwich with a spatula to flatten as it cooks.
Capicola Pizza Recipe
- 3 Oz chopped capicola
- 3 tbsp. chicken broth
- One whole organic pizza crust with sauce
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 Oz chopped mushrooms
- Four cloves of minced garlic
- 8 Oz fresh baby spinach
- 4 Oz mozzarella cheese
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, then heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms and garlic for some minutes, then add the chicken broth and sauté for three more minutes. Add the spinach to wilt, stirring as it cooks, then remove.
- Place your crust on a baking sheet, then spread sauce on it with a large spoon evenly. Top it off with the cheese, mushrooms, and onions that you sautéed, then the capicola.
- Bake the pizza for 10 minutes until the cheese melts and capicola browns.
- Remove from the oven, slice, and enjoy!