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In this guide, we will look at the origins, cooking methods, and alternatives to Genoa salami.
Genoa salami is a popular variety of salami from the region of the same name. Like other Italian salami varieties, it’s typically made from pork and has the classic fermented flavor and tenderness common in salami made from pork.
Looking for a meat grinder to make varieties of salami at home? Check out our guide of the best meat grinders you can buy.
Genoa Salami – The Basics
Originally known as the Salame di Sant’Olcese, Genoa salami is considered a traditional agricultural food product. It is a dry, spiced, and salted salami, naturally fermented to have a tangy taste. Up until recently, Genoa salami was only made from pork. This is because Genoa is a hilly region with no plains where one could raise cattle.
Therefore, the local population preferred pigs as they were easy to maintain on Mediterranean woodlands on a diet of chestnuts, hazelnuts, and acorns. Furthermore, as the pork from the region is said to be of the highest quality, traditional salami from Genoa is sold at a higher price.
Genoa salami is typically made from 60% lean pork and 40% fatty pork. The same portions are also used when salami is made from veal. In the US, Genoa salami made from pork is primarily consumed and sold. Genoa salami is one of the easiest salami varieties to prepare as it doesn’t involve cooking. All you need is a good dry curing chamber to turn pork into this beautiful salami!
What does Genoa Salami look like?
As compared to hard salami, Genoa salami is greasier, moister, and with visible peppercorns. Since it’s made from pork, it has a lighter color than hard salami, made from beef. Depending on the fat content, the appearance of the salami can be more or less white.
What does Genoa Salami taste like?
Because of the way Genoa salami is prepared, its taste varies drastically from other varieties of salami. That said, I feel it’s one of the best salami varieties made from pork. As dry curing is a fundamental part of preparing this salami, I used my Ruggard Electronic Dry Cabinet to ferment the pork properly.
Genoa salami has a tangy and meaty flavor that’s slightly acidic. As garlic and wine are used in preparing salami, these flavors are prominent. Since this is a tender variety, the salami melts in your mouth and leaves a rich assortment of flavors and aromas that you will appreciate. For my money, it’s one of the best tastes you can get in a salami!
How much does Genoa Salami cost?
The cost of Genoa salami would depend on the choice of meat, the cut, and grading, as well as your location. The price of pork varies drastically from state to state. On average, you can buy pork from $2 to $6, depending on the cut.
Looking for a place to buy ethically sourced, organically-raised pork? Check out our Fossil Farms review and find out if it’s the right online butcher shop for you.
How do you cook Genoa Salami?
Technically, there’s no cooking involved when it comes to Genoa salami. So this is one of the easiest salami varieties you can make at home. While it’s not necessary, having a good dry curing chamber like the Ruggard Electronic Dry Cabinet will make it easy for you to prepare Genoa Salami.
Here are the instructions:
- Refrigerate the pork before grinding it with back fat. Make sure that the pork is at a temperature of 35° F or below.
- Grind the pork through a 5mm plate and the back fat through a 3mm plate using a meat grinder. Chill the pork again before mixing.
- Prepare the starter culture by combining a half teaspoon of starter with a quarter cup of distilled water for every 5 pounds of pork. Let the starter culture rest for 30 minutes.
- Mix the pork with back fat and add the seasoning mix of white peppercorn, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and sugar. Combine with the starter culture, and at this point, the pork should be sticky.
- Stuff the ground pork into salami casings and tie both ends. Prick the salami casing to remove air pockets and brush it with red wine.
- Let the salami ferment with 90% humidity at 75° F.
- After 24 hours, use a meat pH meter to check if the pH is between 4.9 and 5.2.
- Once the salami has reached the desired pH, put it in the dry curing chamber with 80% humidity at 55° F. Let the salami dry until 35% – 40% of the weight is lost. If you are manually drying the salami, then this can take anywhere between 60 to 90 days.
- Once the salami is ready, store it at 50° F with 75% humidity.
That wasn’t that hard, was it? You can also make it easier to prepare your favorite cuts of meat by checking out our guide on the best butcher tools and meat processing equipment available on the market today.
Genoa Salami Alternatives
Genoa salami is quite easy to prepare and tastes like you have a fancy treat. However, if you are not a fan of having uncooked salami or want something different to try, here are a few other salami varieties you can consider:
This is a great cold-cut salami that has the traditional smoky flavor. Cotto salami is popular lunch meat that goes well with sandwiches, subs, platters, and more. It’s also quite versatile as you can use chicken, beef, veal, and pork to prepare the salami.
This is easily one of the best cold cuts you can have. Capocollo is perhaps the most popular variety of salami and can be easily purchased from supermarkets and Italian delis. Capocollo is typically slow-roasted as it is cut from the neck and shoulder of the pig.
So hard salami is essentially an umbrella term for salami made from beef. It has marbling similar to Genoa salami, but that’s where the similarities end. It is typically drier and chewier than Genoa salami. Contrary to popular belief, hard salami is actually a German delicacy.
Don’t want to have salami? Why not try a different pork dish? Check out our pork belly vs. bacon comparison and find out what makes these two popular foods so good!
Frequently Asked Questions About Genoa Salami
Question: Can I cook Genoa salami?
Answer: So in some traditions, Genoa salami can be smoked to add the traditional smoky flavor. However, the authentic way to prepare Genoa salami is by fermenting and drying the pork. If you want to smoke the salami, I suggest doing it after you add the seasoning mix. Follow the standard smoking method for salami, and you should be able to get the smoky flavor.
Question: Is Genoa salami safe to eat?
Answer: That’s a great question! As little to no cooking is involved (depending on your preference), you may feel that there may be a risk of eating the salami, but that’s not the case. Genoa salami is fermented and dried at certain temperatures, which makes it safe to consume.
Question: Why does the Genoa salami smell so bad?
Answer: If the salami has a smell, check for the white stuff that forms on it. That’s the natural mold of the salami, which gives off a nasty smell. However, it’s harmless, and you can simply remove it before serving the salami. You can also leave the salami out of its packaging for a few minutes, and the smell will go away.
Question: Do I have to refrigerate Genoa salami?
Answer: Genoa salami has a long shelf life, so you don’t necessarily have to keep it refrigerated. That said, the salami will keep drying out if you keep it outside, so it’s best to refrigerate it in butcher paper. Make sure to never freeze the salami as it needs to breathe.
Question: Is Genoa salami healthy?
Answer: So many people have concerns that since Genoa salami is not cooked, it’s probably an unhealthy food choice. While there are healthier varieties of salami out there, such as Capocollo, Genoa salami can be considered a relatively healthy option.
Question: How should I cut the Genoa salami?
Answer: Great question! There’s a lot of debate on whether the slices of Genoa salami should be thick or thin. The traditional way is to cut thick slices of the salami so that the slices can stand on their edge. That said, the thick slices also mean that the fermented flavor is prominent, which some people may not like. On the other hand, thin slices allow you to have a milder flavor profile, and the salami will melt in your mouth. Try both and see what works for you!
Question: Does Genoa salami go well with pasta?
Answer: Absolutely! This is one of the best-tasting salami that goes well with a lot of traditional Italian foods. Add Genoa salami to carbonara or tomato pasta sauce, and you’d be surprised how well it goes with them. This salami adds a whole new flavor profile that you will appreciate in your pasta bowl.
Question: Does Genoa salami go well with pizza?
Answer: Yes, it does! You can not only add Genoa salami to pizza, but you can also add it to calzones as well. It works equally well when used as a stuffing or a topping on a pizza. My recommendation would be to have it as stuffing as it combines well with the pizza dough and butter.
Question: Does Genoa salami go well with an antipasto platter?
Answer: I highly recommend adding Genoa salami to your antipasto platter. This is a versatile salami that pairs with cheese and bread to perfection. I recommend having it with creamy cheese and chewy bread. The bread will soften the fermented flavor, and the cheese will complement the seasoning and meat flavors.
Capocollo is widely considered one of the best-kept secrets of Italian cured meats. Check out our Capocollo guide and find out what makes this cold cut of pork so popular!
Conclusion – Should You Try Genoa Salami?
If having fermented and dry-aged salami is not a problem for you, then yes! Genoa salami is a versatile salami that you can add to your pasta, pizza, platters, salads, sandwiches, and more. It has a unique flavor that keeps you hooked from the first bite.
While there is no cooking or smoking involved in preparing traditional Genoa salami, you have to follow the instructions carefully. As long as you keep an eye on the temperature and humidity during the fermenting and dry-aging processes, you are good to go!
For my money, Genoa salami is a must-have and should be on the Mount Rushmore of Salami. However, if you’re not a fan of fermented salami or perhaps want to try some other varieties of meat to cook, grill, or smoke, find everything you need under one roof at Meat n Marrow!