Ventricina from the mountainous territory of Vastese is one of the most typical delicacies of Abruzzo. The interior of this cold cut has a red-orange colour and a fragrant aroma that comes from the long aging and characteristic spicing. On the palate, the Ventricina is primarily spicy, but the heat does not overwhelm the flavour of the meat and any other spices used. This cured meat is prepared with pork from white pigs. The finest cuts of the animal (thighs, loin, shoulder) are carefully deboned and trimmed, removing the hardest, most fibrous parts (those adhering to the bones), then cut into small pieces of 2 or 3 centimetres across. These are left to rest overnight, then seasoned with salt, mild bell peppers (ground into a powder), wild fennel and a sprinkling of black pepper. The small and sweet red peppers come from the little town of Altino, which are dried for a few days before being selected, opened, cleaned and crushed in a mortar. It takes around 12 quintals of fresh peppers to make 1 quintal of this precious ground powder! The pork mixture is then stuffed into a pig’s bladder and left to dry for at least 5 months. In the past, each family would cut into them only during significant times of rural life, like the harvest or during grape picking. Nowadays this exquisite salame is still common, but only a handful of producers still follow the traditional techniques, aging it in the cooler areas of the middle and upper Vastese. The Presidium’s six producers have joined together in an association and have drawn up a protocol that specifies the use of heavy pigs farmed in the production area and bans the use of chemical preservatives.
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