A deli meat great for the gourmet and the every day? The fragrant, pink salume mortadella promises a slice of satisfaction for both 4-year-olds and professional chefs alike. This white-speckled cold-cut originated in Bologna over 500 years ago, and gave rise to the American spin-off baloney. Traditionally, authentic ingredients include top-quality cuts of pork, finely ground to a smooth, silky texture, plus salt, white and black pepper, mace, coriander, crushed garlic and other additional seasonings. Cubes of pork fat are kneaded into the mixture, optionally accompanied by pistachios for a more festive, fully-flecked look. The mixture is then stuffed into long, round casings, and cooked in a special brick oven.
In the Kitchen
Like prosciutto, mortadella maintains a wide variety of uses in the kitchen. Ranging from brown-bag basic to elegant party fare, the salume works well in a simple fresh roll, as well as alongside hunks of Parmesan and washed down with a cocktail. Mortadella is a key component of the classic filling for tortellini, and suavely spices up a hearty polpettone (meatloaf). Julienned strips of the meat beautifully complement potato dishes, savory tortes, and stuffed vegetables. When cut into cubes, mortadella can also be served with raw fruits and vegetables or tossed into salads.
Freshly sliced mortadella should be consumed as soon as possible for optimum flavor and preferred texture. Any leftover slices should be wrapped tightly in plastic, and promptly refrigerated.
Up until the year 2000, authentic Italian mortadella was unavailable in the United States. Now, with the ebbing of trade restrictions, it can be easily acquired at gourmet delis and neighborhood Italian markets.
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