Genoa Salami Guide and History [2021]: 5 Best Ways To Eat It

If you’ve ever chowed down on a Classic Cuban, Muffuletta, or Italian sandwich, chances are you’ve enjoyed the pleasure of Genoa salami. 

As Italy’s most well-known cured meat, Genoa has made its way into the hearts of salami lovers worldwide and become a staple at deli counters and sandwiches shops around the globe.

In this guide, we will explore the history and profile of Genoa salami and how you can add it to your everyday meals. 

History of Genoa

Originating from the hillsides of Northern Italy, this salami gets its name from its birthplace of Genoa. 

At the center of the Italian Riveria, Genoa is a historic seaport city. A temperate Mediterranean climate creates the perfect mild conditions for the air-cured process of traditional Italian salami production. 

The hilly landscapes native to Genoa provide a thriving environment for pigs to forage on acorns, hazelnut, and chestnuts. Making pork the star ingredient in Genoa salami. 

Genoa, a dry salami, is a traditional Italian sausage, the universal title for all salted and encased meat. Each region has its unique methods, but all Italian salami stems from a long history of local practices dating back to pre-Roman times. 

While Genoa comes from Italian roots, today it’s produced all over the world, including the US. 

Genoa Salami – The Basics

Genoa is a dried, salted, and spiced salami, which gets air-cured to give it a natural fermented flavor. 

Like all dry-cured salamis, Genoa is shelf-stable and commonly found hanging in butcher shops and markets. This natural curing process means Genoa is ready to eat as soon as you slice into it, making it the perfect addition to your next charcuterie board or cold-cut sandwich. 

Dry-cured salami, like Genoa, can be kept unopened at room temperature for long periods, but once sliced, requires refrigeration. 

You’ll find Genoa is best when consumed quickly after cutting into, ensuring the quality and fresh taste. 

What does Genoa look like?

Fresh fine-ground pork meat gives Genoa its rich red hue, though you may find certain varieties include beef or veal. 

Speckled throughout is a blend of pork fat, peppercorns, and even fennel seeds. The high-fat content provides a moist, soft texture distinct to Genoa compared to other hard dry-cured salamis.

What does Genoa taste like?

Genoa salami has a mild, clean, and smooth flavor, making it a staple deli meat favorite. 

Seasoned with red wine, cracked peppercorns, and a heavy dose of garlic, this robust salami has a rich mouthfeel and a slight hint of acid from the fermentation process. 

Genoa can be found in both mild or hot varieties, depending on your flavor preference. 

For a hot Genoa, smoked paprika and chili pepper get added, giving the salami a bold, savory kick. Hot Genoa has a darker, richer hue distinguishing it from a traditional, mild Genoa.

How much does Genoa cost?

Depending on the brand and where you buy Genoa, the price per pound varies. Since Genoa is produced globally, you will find domestic products on the cheaper end of the scale while imported traditional varieties come with a higher price tag. 

In the US, most well-known meat processors sell Genoa salami. From Boar’s Head to Applegate Farms, prices range from $9.99 to over $16.99 per pound.

Gourmet importers of authentic Italian Genoa can range upwards of $30 per pound. 

How do you eat Genoa?

The most common way to enjoy Genoa is to slice and serve immediately. Though it doesn’t require cooking, you can incorporate Genoa into your favorite dishes for an extra dose of flavor. 

Below are some of the best ways to savor Genoa. 

Charcuterie Boards 

Delight your next dinner guests with a beautiful charcuterie board. You’ll be surprised how easy a stunning antipasti platter comes together. 

Here’s what you will need to impress your guests:

  1. Fresh Genoa salami. Ask your local market or butcher to thin-slice the salami for you and factor around 2-4 ounces of meat per guest. 
  2. Fresh-cut cheese. Fontina and mozzarella pair well with Genoa’s tangy taste. Buy a block and slice fresh right before serving. 
  3. Roasted red peppers. Found jarred or canned, you can buy this pre-sliced or whole. Red peppers enhance the flavor profiles of Genoa and add a pop of color to your meat and cheese board. 
  4. Crusty fresh bread. Everyone loves fresh-made bread, and a simple baguette from your local market, cut into slices, will ensure a happy crowd.

Pop a bottle of your favorite sparkling Processo, sit back, and enjoy the praise for your effortless feast. 

Cold-Cut Deli Sandwiches

Cuban Sandwich 

Some will debate that it’s not a true Cuban sandwich unless there is Genoa salami. A fancy version of a classic ham and cheese sandwich, the Cuban sandwich layers Genoa salami with smoked ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, yellow mustard, and dill pickles between crusty bread and pressed to crisp, handheld perfection. 

Muffuletta Sandwich

A classic New Orleans sandwich celebrates all the iconic Italian flavors. Genoa salami and provolone cheese are piled high on sesame-studded muffuletta bread and spread with a bright olive puree. 

If you can’t find the traditional round muffuletta bread, you can sub any Italian loaf, Foccacia-style bread, or even a classic baguette.

Other ways to add Genoa to your meal

Genoa salami is not only for sandwiches and antipasti platters. It makes a great addition to any dish. 

Slice Genoa and add to your favorite leafy green salad, pasta, soup, frittata, or throw on top of a pizza in place of pepperoni. The mild flavor complements many dishes while enhancing a recipe with a tangy twist. 

Genoa Alternatives

Genoa’s simplicity gives it mass appeal and makes it a popular choice amongst sandwich lovers. However, if you can’t find Genoa or have another salami on hand, here are 3 common alternatives to Genoa:

Milano Salami 

Milano salami is made similar to Genoa. Seasoned with garlic, pepper, and white wine, Milano is a dry-cured salami almost identical to Genoa. 

Made from a blend of pork and beef, Milano is ground finer than Genoa and delivers a sweet, delicate taste. Also originating from the Northern Region of Italy, Milano easily substitutes for Genoa in any recipe. 

Cotto Salami 

Cotto salami is another deli counter favorite. 

Cotto, the Italian word for cooked, isn’t cured or aged like Genoa and Milano salami. Instead, Cotto gets cooked in steam ovens, resulting in a tender and moist salami. 

Made from the cheaper cuts of meat, cotta salami is a coarsely chopped blend of pork, beef, and ofal. It is then mixed with garlic and spices, stuffed into artificial casings, and cooked to perfection, making it one of the world’s most popular and replicated salami. 

Sopressata Salami

Sopressata salami is an Italian dry salami made from various parts of the pig, including the tongue, belly, head, and stomach. 

The meat is roughly chopped and blended with different spices depending on the region of origin. Though, most Sopressata includes chili peppers giving it a spicy kick of flavor. 

Sopressata salami tends to have a drier, more firm texture than Genoa but remains a tasty alternative. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Genoa

Question: What’s the difference between Genoa and Hard Salami?

Answer: Genoa and hard salami are both dry-cured salamis stored at room temperature for an extended period. 

While the two salamis share a similar marbled appearance, hard salami has less moisture and a lower fat content resulting in a drier, chewier texture. 

Hard salami contains a higher ratio of beef to pork, where Genoa is mainly composed of pork. Hard salami omits wine or vinegar, while red wine is a key ingredient giving Genoa salami its tangy taste and moist texture that makes it widely popular. 

The biggest distinction between Genoa and hard salami is their country of origin. While Genoa stems from Italian culture, hard salami is native to Germany. 

Question: How long is Genoa salami good for?

Answer: Unopened, a dry salami, like Genoa, can be stored at room temperature for up to six weeks and in the refrigerator indefinitely. Once sliced, Genoa should be wrapped tightly with plastic and stored for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. 

Mold may start to appear on your Genoa, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be thrown out. Aged or cured products, like salami or cheese, you can simply remove the portion containing mold and continue to enjoy your salami without fear. 

You will know when it’s time to discard your Genoa when the color changes from its bright red hue to a gray or brown color. Another sign is when it starts to smell like rotten eggs. Genoa should have a strong aroma of garlic and pepper. Any other smell means it has gone bad and is not safe for consumption. 

Question: Is Genoa Healthy?

Answer: Though Genoa salami has a higher fat content, you can still enjoy it as part of a healthy diet. 

A 1-ounce portion of Genoa provides roughly 120 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3 grams sat fat, and 6 grams of protein. Like most animal proteins, it contains B12 and minimal carbohydrates but is a concentrated source of sodium, with around 22% of the daily value in a 1-ounce portion. 

With its high saturated fat and sodium content, it’s best to incorporate Genoa in moderation in your healthy diet. 

Question: Can I Eat Genoa Without Cooking?

Answer: Yes, the most common way to consume Genoa salami is freshly sliced and uncooked. Either on crusty bread or with a simple slice of cheese, Genoa is a tasty treat that doesn’t require the oven or a stove. 

You can also enjoy Genoa cooked into your favorite pasta dishes or baked into an egg frittata or omelet. Its mild flavor gives you unlimited options on how you chose to prepare your salami. 

Question: Can I Make Genoa at Home?

Answer: Yes, technically, you can make Genoa from scratch, but you should proceed with caution. With any aged, cured, or fermented product, the process is a delicate balance of pH levels which create bacteria, both good and bad. 

Dry-aging requires the growth of good bacteria to cure the meat, so it is safe to eat. If the process isn’t followed carefully, harmful bacteria grow, creating the perfect home for potential foodborne pathogens. 

While it’s possible to experiment with making your own salami, it’s best to leave this to the professionals. 

Question: Where Can I Buy Genoa?

Answer: Genoa is one of the most common lunch meats you will find. It’s widely available and often the go-to at deli counters. Ask your local grocery store next time you shop what kind of salami they serve. Chances are, it’s Genoa. 

Many large deli meat manufacturers offer Genoa salami pre-sliced and packaged. Look up your favorite brand online to see if they offer this salami in a store near you. 

If your supermarket doesn’t sell Genoa salami, you’ll have better luck at a specialty market or butcher.

Question: What’s the difference between Genoa and Hard Salami?

Answer: Genoa and hard salami are both dry-cured salamis stored at room temperature for an extended period. 

While the two salamis share a similar marbled appearance, hard salami has less moisture and a lower fat content resulting in a drier, chewier texture. 

Hard salami contains a higher ratio of beef to pork, where Genoa is mainly composed of pork. Hard salami omits wine or vinegar, while red wine is a key ingredient giving Genoa salami its tangy taste and moist texture that makes it widely popular. 

The biggest distinction between Genoa and hard salami is their country of origin. While Genoa stems from Italian culture, hard salami is native to Germany. 

Question: How long is Genoa salami good for?

Answer: Unopened, a dry salami, like Genoa, can be stored at room temperature for up to six weeks and in the refrigerator indefinitely. Once sliced, Genoa should be wrapped tightly with plastic and stored for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator. 

Mold may start to appear on your Genoa, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be thrown out. Aged or cured products, like salami or cheese, you can simply remove the portion containing mold and continue to enjoy your salami without fear. 

You will know when it’s time to discard your Genoa when the color changes from its bright red hue to a gray or brown color. Another sign is when it starts to smell like rotten eggs. Genoa should have a strong aroma of garlic and pepper. Any other smell means it has gone bad and is not safe for consumption. 

Question: Is Genoa Healthy?

Answer: Though Genoa salami has a higher fat content, you can still enjoy it as part of a healthy diet. 

A 1-ounce portion of Genoa provides roughly 120 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3 grams sat fat, and 6 grams of protein. Like most animal proteins, it contains B12 and minimal carbohydrates but is a concentrated source of sodium, with around 22% of the daily value in a 1-ounce portion.
 
With its high saturated fat and sodium content, it’s best to incorporate Genoa in moderation in your healthy diet. 

Question: Can I Eat Genoa Without Cooking?

Answer: Yes, the most common way to consume Genoa salami is freshly sliced and uncooked. Either on crusty bread or with a simple slice of cheese, Genoa is a tasty treat that doesn’t require the oven or a stove. 
You can also enjoy Genoa cooked into your favorite pasta dishes or baked into an egg frittata or omelet. Its mild flavor gives you unlimited options on how you chose to prepare your salami. 

Question: Can I Make Genoa at Home?

Answer: Yes, technically, you can make Genoa from scratch, but you should proceed with caution. With any aged, cured, or fermented product, the process is a delicate balance of pH levels which create bacteria, both good and bad. 

Dry-aging requires the growth of good bacteria to cure the meat, so it is safe to eat. If the process isn’t followed carefully, harmful bacteria grow, creating the perfect home for potential foodborne pathogens. 

While it’s possible to experiment with making your own salami, it’s best to leave this to the professionals. 

Question: Where Can I Buy Genoa?

Answer: Genoa is one of the most common lunch meats you will find. It’s widely available and often the go-to at deli counters. Ask your local grocery store next time you shop what kind of salami they serve. Chances are, it’s Genoa. 

Many large deli meat manufacturers offer Genoa salami pre-sliced and packaged. Look up your favorite brand online to see if they offer this salami in a store near you. 

If your supermarket doesn’t sell Genoa salami, you’ll have better luck at a specialty market or butcher.

Conclusion – It’s Time to Upgrade Your Lunchtime Staple

Genoa salami is a staple in our sandwich culture. 

While most commonly found layered in Italian-inspired cold-cut sandwiches, the possibilities with Genoa are endless. 

Try mixing up your lunchtime routine by swapping out the bread and adding Genoa to your favorite recipe. Toss with a hefty dose of leafy greens and a bright vinaigrette, add to your favorite pasta salad or a soothing soup for extra flavor. 

Short on time? Grab some sliced Genoa, your favorite cheese, and a slab of crusty bread, and escape with a taste of the Italian coast. 

There is no wrong way to eat Genoa. The clean, tender profile makes Genoa an easy addition to your next snack or lunchtime feast. 

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