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Charcuterie comes from the French words for flesh (chair) and cooked (cuit). It’s the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products such as bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pâtés, and confit, primarily from pork.

Charcuterie can make the difference between a snack and a meal. Serve thin slices of prosciutto, Serrano ham, and sweet or spicy salamis with aged cheeses like Pecorino and Manchego. Charcuterie is a great way to build a spread that highlights food from a particular country, like Spain or Italy. Leftovers can be used in sandwiches: try prosciutto with goat cheese and fig jam!

 

Proscuitto

(similar to the French, Jambon de Bayonne and Spanish, Jamón Serrano): Proscuitto is quite literally the Italian word for ham. In Australia, prosciutto is often used to describe a finely sliced, dry-cured ham, which in Italy is referred to as prosciutto crudo (uncooked ham). The best and most expensive variety of prosciutto is Parma, the Italian region most famous for its production. It is gorgeous generously piled on top of a just cooked margherita pizza; wrapped around freshly blanched asparagus or a pan fried steak; or simply served with fresh bread, grissini or draped delicately over melon.

 

Salami/ salame/ saucisson

A cured, air- dried sausage or fermented meat. Salami can allegedly be stored at room temperature for up to ten years. In years gone by it was a common substitute for fresh meat among peasants across southern Europe. Salami is traditionally, or most commonly made from pork, but there are varietals that require meats like veal, venison, poultry, and even horse. Typically, salami is rich in garlic and spices, often with a smattering of paprika or chili. It has a marbled appearance and a distinctive salty, spicy flavour. Well known as a pizza topping, but probably more delicious swathed between two chunks of soft, fresh bread.

 

Speck

Speck, unlike the other aforementioned meats, is not only cured in salt, but also smoked. Like prosciutto it is made from the hind leg of pigs. It often has a distinctive juniper flavour resulting from the mix of spices used throughout the curing process. In Germanic countries, speck is commonly served with rye bread and horseradish, while in Italy it is often used as a strong flavour base in pastas and risotto.

 

Pancetta

Pancetta is made from pork belly, similar to bacon. It is cured in salt and spices and often sold rolled, and thinly sliced. Unlike bacon, pancetta isn’t smoked, leaving it with a far more delicate flavour. Pancetta has a higher fat content than prosciutto, and should be served cooked. It adds great depth and a distinctive salty- spiciness to any dish.