With its intense, aromatic flavour, PGI Salama da Sugo is made in the towns of Buonacompra, Madonna Boschi, Poggio Renatico, Vigarano Mainarda and Portomaggiore, in the province of Ferrara. Whilst each of these towns makes their own version of this cold cut following a specific recipe, one thing they can all agree on is that salama, also known as salamina, is one of the most characteristic delicacies from Ferrara cuisine.
The taste of this salami is indeed rather distinctive. To make this cured cold cut, cheaper cuts of pork (collar, neck, cheek, belly, tongue and liver) are mixed together with an array of spices and aromas including salt, pepper, garlic, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, and then are watered down with red wine, usually local. This mixture is then stuffed inside an intestine casing, which is knotted and left to age for six to 24 months before it is ready to sell in its uncooked or pre-cooked version.
Just like many other typical delicacies from the Emilia-Romagna region, PGI Salama da Sugo has strong ties to the area, where it is still eaten to this day. The first evidence of the existence of this salami can be traced back to a letter from Lorenzo the Magnificent to Ercole I d'Este, the Duke of Ferrara, in which he thanks the duke for the salami he sent him, which was much appreciated.
Legend has it that the salami’s popularity amongst the Este court in the early 1500s came thanks to Lucrezia Borgia, wife of Alfonso d’Este. Ever since, the salama became a highlight at Este banquets. Over time, it transitioned to become peasant fare, and only later did Ferrara locals save it for special occasions. Every year, this special sausage is celebrated at the Sagra della salamina al cucchiaio food festival in Madonna Boschi.
When you buy your salama da sugo uncooked, it will require a rather elaborate preparation process before you can serve it at the table. Firstly, the salami needs to soak in cold water over night. The next day, it must be wrapped in a thin cloth and placed in a saucepan of water, but should not be allowed to touch the bottom.
The water is then brought to the boil and left to simmer on a low heat for four to seven hours depending how aged the salami is.
Once cooked, it is traditionally served with mashed potatoes, but other side dishes also work well to cut through the salami's spiced, slightly acidic flavour, such as pumpkin or white bean mash. When served in its uncooked form, it is delicious with bread, figs and melon, and is best enjoyed with a glass of full-bodied red wine.