The 5th of July, 2014 had been etched in our diaries for the best part of six months. Not an easy feat to coordinate our family's annual salami day. Between work, kids football, basketball, dancing, calisthenics and other commitments, a free Saturday for everyone these days are hard to find. We all jumped on the opportunity of a free Saturday over the school holidays and just prayed for one of Melbourne's famous wintry July mornings.
We weren't disappointed. The air was crisp and it was a very cool morning. The two pigs arrived shortly after dawn and the shed was very quickly transformed into a backyard butchery. It was all hands on deck and the breaking down of the pig was well underway. Quality control was agreed on, with only the best cuts of meat being put aside for the salami and the more inferior quality being put aside for the sausages. The cafetiera was put on and the prized grappa was passed around to warm the souls.
Father and son enjoying the salami day.
All the kids had arrived by mid morning, and the shed would be overtaken with the sounds of children's laughter and mischievous giggles. They would come and go from the shed, curious as to the process underway, lend an extra hand and would then vanish to enjoy the freedom of being outdoors to explore the garden and winter morning with their cousins.
Our annual salami day has evolved over the years into what has become a family affair. Grandparents, parents, children, uncles, aunties, brothers, sisters, in-laws and cousins working together to preserve a 'slow food' tradition. Under the one shed, at any time, there will be three generations, the passing down of skills, processes and recipes in meat curing. For most, the presence of the children at the salami day is a highlight. We know that it is these special days, where not only the food traditions from our ancestors are preserved, but that life-long memories for our children are created and a sense of family strengthened. We can only hope that these memories will in turn inspire them to continue to preserve this food tradition and family culture.
Breaking down of the pig.
A fine winter breakfast..... Fresh coffee, bacon and egg rolls.
Mincing the pork.
Mixing the mince.
Adding the hot capsicum sauce to the mince.
Pasta e ragu for the masses - A four ring burner, aluminium pot, a stack load of homemade pasta and slow cooked sauce.
Our salami day is not just about the salami making process. It's the sharing of meals & wine, togetherness and the sense of belonging that is equally important. The day is long and the work is arduous, but the meals are the reward. A time to enjoy a homemade meal, share stories, critique the pig, analyse the process and rest the feet. The meal is simple, but rich in flavor.... pasta ragu, last year's salami, crunchy bread, hard cheese, salad and some wine.
Filling the salami and sausages.
Tying the sausages.
Heading towards midnight, we've cleaned and packed up the equipment, washed the benches and swept the floor. We think we've finished but…Wrong!....The leg that's been pressed and hung all day to drain the blood is still waiting to be turned into prosciutto. We all gather around the work bench to watch Ari skillfully massage out the dark blood out of the meat. Satisfied that all the blood has been drained from the meat, it is then cut, shaped and weighed. Salt is rubbed into the meat. It is then fully submerged in rock salt and left to cure in the salt, before it is ready to be hung in a few weeks time for further curing. The curing process is slow. We have learnt from previous years that you cannot rush this process. We know it will be many months before we will share this beautiful piece of prosciutto, but it will be well worth the wait.
Fortunately we can enjoy our homemade sausages immediately. They are left to hang overnight, but will be vacuum packed the next day and ready to cook. We'll have a choice of fennel, hot chilli, red wine or pepper and they'll be perfect for the BBQ or cooked with homemade sugo (my favourite). We will have to wait for the salami, but hopefully they will be ready in 6 to 8 weeks. In this time, the salami will be checked regularly, moved to a cooler spot, wiped down and glared at admiringly :).
Once cured, the salami will be shared as gifts, enjoyed with family and friends, analysed and dissected. There will be serious conversations about next year's salami day, the recipe and process debated, notes written and a date for 2015 put into our diaries. New plans to make that "perfect salami" will be underway.
If you would like to see more photos from our annual salami day, follow the link to our Facebook Album.
~ Salami 101 ~
~ Food & Beverage Courses ~
Our Winter food and beverage courses/workshops at our Clayton and Reservoir stores include:-
Salami and Cured Meats - 11th July, 2014 (Reservoir Store)
Camembert Cheese - 7th August, 2014 (Reservoir Store) and 9th August, 2014 (Clayton Store)
Mozzarella Cheese - 16th August, 2014 (Reservoir Store) and 23rd August, 2014 (Clayton Store)
Pizza Making - 4th September, 2014 (Reservoir Store) and 6th September, 2014 (Clayton Store)
Beer Fest Courses - 11th September, 2014 (Reservoir Store) & 13th September, 2014 (Clayton Store)
You can book ONLINE and with the security and ease of Paypal, or call the stores directly to book your place (Reservoir - 9460 2777 & Clayton - 9574 8222).
~ The Mortadella Sessions ~
The Melbourne Salami Festa, in conjunction with Ombra Salumi Bar and Home Make It held the first of the Mortadella Sessions last Saturday at Ombra Salumi Bar. If you missed out last week, there is still one more session being held on Saturday 26th July, 2014. Click here to book online. The Mortadella Sessions include an instructional workshop in making homemade mortadella by Chef's Dom Marzano & James Vardis from Ombra Salumi Bar and bonus demonstrations by Home Make It's very own Steve and Frank in making capocollo and pancetta. Participants will also enjoy a spectacular lunch at one of Melbourne's most authentic Italian restaurants, that is famous for is preservation of Italian food traditions.
~ Specials ~
Click on the sale banner below to see this week's specials.
Have a great weekend!