Capocollo Guide [2021]: Is This Italian Meat Worth It?

It is one of the most popular pork cold cuts in Italy and is regarded as a fine delicacy in other parts of the world. It is one of the best-kept secrets of Italy’s meat curing process. Today, we’ll give you a comprehensive Capocollo guide and help you learn how to make it at home!

The ancient tradition of making Capocollo has remained preserved to this day. The Coppa Piacentina variety of Northern Italy and the Capocollo di Calabria variety of Southern Italy are classified under the Protected Designation of Origin status. It means that only the salami originating from these two regions is allowed to sell commercially. You can’t get more authentic than that!

D’Artagnan is a great source of purchasing meat online. Check out our D’Artagnan review to find out if it’s the right online butcher shop for you.

Capocollo – The Basic

Capocollo

The term Capocollo is a combination of the words capo, which means the head, and collo, which means the neck. The cut is made by dry-curing the shoulder and neck muscles similar to prosciutto, made from ham.

If you have seen The Sopranos, you probably have seen this variety of meat as it was a common fixture on the dining table throughout the series. Commonly known as Capicolla or Capicola in North America, the Italian Americans pronounce it as gabagool, whereas it is pronounced as capicola in the rest of the country.

Capocollo can be prepared at home, but if you don’t have experience with curing and using a smoker, then I suggest going for easier varieties to smoke and cure. There’s a bit of a learning curve with preparing Capocollo, but the result is worth every bite!

What does Capocollo look like?

Simply beautiful is what I would call Capocollo. You may call it a cross between a sausage and prosciutto. It has a roasted, dark brown color on the outside and reddish-pink meat with beautiful marbling across it on the inside.

The meat has a dark color as it is cut from the shoulder and neck region, which get a lot of exercise throughout the pig’s life. The preparation method also changes the texture and color of the meat as it can be smoked and slow-roasted.

What does Capocollo taste like?

In my opinion, it’s the best salami you can prepare at home or buy from an Italian deli. To prepare this cold cut, I bought a large piece of neck meat from XYC and the spices from my local grocery.

This is one cut of meat that you would want to prepare in a traditional charcoal smoker because you want to have that natural, smokey flavor in each bite. For this reason, I used my Char-Broil American Gourmet Smoker.

The taste is so rich and aromatic. The spices are delicate, the smoky flavor adds a rich flavor profile, and the fat is enough to make it juicy and tender. I made thin slices of the Capocollo, which is the traditional way of doing it, and trust me, the sandwiches I made with just the salami and cheese were out of this world! It’s safe to say that I’m a big fan of Capocollo!

How much does Capocollo cost?

The price of pork varies from state to state, but that said, the shoulder and neck cuts of pork are typically cheaper. The shoulder is a very tough cut of meat as it does a lot of work, but it’s quite popular as a roast. Not just that, but the fact that these cuts can be prepared in many ways makes them ideal for a wide range of dishes, including BBQ, stews, meatballs, sandwiches, and more!

The price of shoulder or neck cuts of pork can range from $2 to $4 per pound. That’s pretty cheap! Normally they are sold in large chunks ranging from 6-9 lbs or even higher. I would also advise buying a larger piece of shoulder, ideally around 10 lbs, so that you can prepare it once and reap the rewards of your labor for weeks to come!

How do you cook Capocollo?

Char Broil

Let’s get to the preparation of this beautiful salami! As mentioned earlier, it’s not that easy to prepare Capocollo as there are many intricacies involved, especially if you are trying to replicate the authentic flavor. That said, I’ve laid out some simple and easy-to-follow instructions for you to prepare Capocollo conveniently from the comfort of your home.

The first thing you will need is a good smoker, and you can’t go wrong with the Char-Broil American Gourmet Smoker. I would recommend a traditional charcoal smoker as the smoky flavor is an essential component of getting the authentic flavor profile.

Curing: 

  1. The first step is to cure the pork. In a spice grinder, add sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, sugar, and Himalayan salt. Grind the spice rub thoroughly until it becomes finely ground.
  2. Apply the salt rub thoroughly on the pork and cover it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 15 days. Make sure to flip the pork after 7 days. The meat should be firmer to the touch after the curing process.

Smoking: 

We will be using a natural collagen wrap sheet, also known as the Capocolli sheet. You can prepare Capocollo without this step, but it will add to the authenticity of the salami.

  1. Bring white wine to a boil and let it rest. Was the collagen sheets in the cooked wine to enhance the flavor profile of the pork.
  2. Combine coriander, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and anise seeds in a bowl and grind until coarse.
  3. Apply the rub thoroughly on the cured pork and insert it into the washed Capocolli sheet.
  4. Set the smoker to 225°F and let the pork rest so that the wine seeps into the pork.
  5. Let the pork slow-cook in the smoker for 5-6 hours. Flip the pork after 3 hours.
  6. Remove the pork from the smoker once the internal temperature reaches 145°F. Ensure that it doesn’t go over 150°F; otherwise, the meat will become dry and chewy. By this point, the outer layer should be dark brown.
  7. Let the Capocollo rest for about 20-30 minutes, then refrigerate it for about 4 hours.
  8. Thinly slice the Capocollo into salami and serve!

That’s it! It’s not that difficult to prepare Capocollo at home, but if you don’t have any experience using a smoker, then you should probably hone your skills before giving this cold cut a try!

If you’re new to the world of smokers, don’t worry, we’re here for you. Check out our guide of the best smokers on the market that will help you prepare your favorite meats to perfection!

Capocollo Alternatives

Prosciutto

Capocollo is one of the best cold cut pork you can ever have. However, the preparation method will require some experience and time. If you’re looking for a different cut of pork or something easier to prepare, here are a few alternatives to Capocollo you should consider:

Prosciutto

This is perhaps the most common alternative to Capocolla. Prosciutto is a dry-cured ham that’s served as thin slices. This is a perfect cold cut used in sandwiches, Italian subs, salads, and more. Prosciutto is also a little easier to prepare at home and doesn’t take that much time to prepare either!

Pork Belly

If you’re looking for a versatile cut of pork, then you can’t go wrong with pork belly. Cut from the underbelly of the pig, pork belly can be made into bacon, sausages, slow-cooked as a roast, and more. It contains copious amounts of fat that allow the meat to be juicy, tender, and delicious.

Bresaola

If you’re not a fan of pork but love dried cured meat, then bresaola is a great alternative for you. It is often prepared by curing beef (but you can also prepare it using pork) and aging it for 2 to 3 months until it becomes dark and hard. Then, it’s thinly sliced and served in sandwiches, giving a sweet, musky flavor.

While we’re on the subject of pork, here is a look at our comparison of pork belly vs. bacon that will help you decide which cut of pork is best for you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about Capocollo:

Conclusion – Should You Try Capocollo?

Yes, especially if you have experience using a smoker. Capocollo is one of the tastiest cold cuts of pork that goes well with just about everything. Sandwiches, subs, salads, and starters, you name it, Capocollo adds color, flavor, and excitement to every meal it’s associated with.

If you’re a beginner, then you can prepare the Capocollo without the collagen wrap sheet. However, if you’re experienced and looking for authentic flavor, then the wine-washed wrap sheet will add an incredible aroma to the salami that you will appreciate.

To conclude, make sure that you give Capocollo a try. If you never had it in your life, buy some from your local Italian deli, and I’m sure you will be glad you did. To learn more about preparing meat and pork the right way, let Meat n Marrow be your guide!

Question: Can I prepare Capocollo in an oven?

Answer: Yes, you can make it in an oven if you don’t have a smoker or don’t want to use one. Simply preheat the oven to 250°F and place a pan full of water in the oven. Put the pork in a netting if you’re not going to use a wrap sheet.

Cook the pork for 2 hours and make sure to flip it after 1 hour. Once the internal temperature reaches 145°F to 150°F, remove the Capocollo from the oven and refrigerate it for 4 hours.

Question: Where can I buy authentic Capocollo from?

Answer: Capocollo is sold in most Italian delis, and you can also buy it from butcher shops run by Italian Americans. In addition, authentic Capocollo can be purchased from Santoro and other online shops where the traditional way of preparing Capocollo is followed.

Bear in mind that authentic Capocollo will be quite expensive compared to Capocollo, you can buy from your local Italian deli. This is because preparing Capocollo is very intricate and involves smoking the pork with the bark of a tree from the region. As a result, the final product is only ready after 3 to 4 months.

Question: Can I cook Capocollo in an electric smoker?

Answer: Yes! Whether for environmental reasons or if you’re not a fan of all the hassle of charcoal smoking, electric smokers are a great alternative. Add wood chips to the electric smoker and make sure the minimum temperature is 225°F. This will allow the wood chips to smoke, giving the Capocollo the trademark smoky flavor it’s known for.

Question: Do I have to make thin slices of Capocollo? What if I don’t?

Answer: Yes, you have to make thin slices of Capocollo. If you cut thick slices, It’s going to be hard and chewy, which is not very ideal. As this salami is cut from the shoulder, it’s naturally tough but also flavorful. Thin slices allow you to easily chew down the pork while being able to enjoy the flavor in each bite!

Question: Can you make homemade pastrami from Capocollo?

Answer: Yes, it’s possible to make homemade pastrami from Capocollo. While pastrami is typically made from beef, the preparation method and the smoky flavor of the Capocollo make it a good substitute for beef pastrami. Be mindful about slicing the meat though. Don’t make thick slices otherwise, the Capocollo will be very chewy.

Question: Would Capocollo be good to add to an antipasto platter?

Answer: Yes! In fact, it is one of the main types of salumi added to an antipasto platter. When making an antipasto platter, classic Italian cured meats are added such as prosciutto, salami, and Capocollo.

Question: Does Capocollo taste good with provolone?

Answer: Yes! Capocollo and provolone go hand in hand and it’s probably the best cheese you can have with the cured meat. Add some salami, Capocollo, and provolone in a panini bread and you have a great treat in your hands that’s simple but delicious!

Question: Would you add Capocollo in with a charcuterie board?

Answer: Yes! A charcuterie board consists of cured meats, cheese, nuts, olives, and veggies. You can most certainly make a charcuterie board with Capocollo, Mortadella, Sopressata, ham, gouda, cheddar, and baguette for an epic meal with friends and family!

Question: Is Capocollo considered an Italian cured meat?

Answer: Yes. Capocollo is a traditional Italian dish that is made by dry-curing the muscles of the neck and shoulder. The meat is dry-cured for anywhere between 10 to 15 days so that it absorbs all the spices and aroma from the seasoning rub.

Question: Would you recommend olive oil, black pepper, pickle, fennel seed, balsamic vinegar, paprika, or juniper berries to be appropriate seasonings/pairings with Capocollo?

Answer: Yes! This is actually one of the authentic recipes for seasoning Capocollo with. In fact, this seasoning is still practiced in many parts of Italy and other parts of the world where Capocollo is commonly used.

Want to buy a grill that lets you prepare your favorite cuts the right way? Check out our guide of the 5 best grills in 2021!

Conclusion – Should You Try Capocollo?

Yes, especially if you have experience using a smoker. Capocollo is one of the tastiest cold cuts of pork that goes well with just about everything. Sandwiches, subs, salads, and starters, you name it, Capocollo adds color, flavor, and excitement to every meal it’s associated with.

If you’re a beginner, then you can prepare the Capocollo without the collagen wrap sheet. However, if you’re experienced and looking for authentic flavor, then the wine-washed wrap sheet will add an incredible aroma to the salami that you will appreciate.

To conclude, make sure that you give Capocollo a try. If you never had it in your life, buy some from your local Italian deli, and I’m sure you will be glad you did. To learn more about preparing meat and pork the right way, let Meat n Marrow be your guide!

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