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Capocollo (in the United States, cappicola or gabagoul; in Canada, capicollo or capicolla), or coppa, is a traditional Italian cold cut (salume) made from dry-cured whole pork shoulder or neck. This cold cut is sometimes called coppa. The name capocollo comes from capo—head—and collo—neck—of a pig. The Italian word, "capocollo'" is of Tuscan origin, but its precise etymology is unknown (in Latin caput means head and collum means head or head and neck). It is similar to the more widely known cured ham or prosciutto, because they are both pork-derived cold-cuts that are used in similar dishes. However, the technical definition of ham is the thigh and buttocks of a pig (or boar) slaughtered for meat, whereas capocollo is solely meat from the shoulder or neck.
Manufacture and use
In its production, capocollo is first lightly seasoned, often with red and sometimes white wine, garlic, and a variety of herbs and spices that differ depending on region. The meat is then salted (and was traditionally massaged) and stuffed into a natural casing, and hung for up to six months to cure. Sometimes the exterior is rubbed with hot paprika before being hung and cured. Differences in flavor can also depend on what type of wood is used for smoking, as well as which breed of pig is selected. Capocollo is essentially the pork counterpart of the air dried, cured beef bresaola. It is widely available wherever there are significant Italian communities, thanks to commercially produced varieties. There is also a slow-roasted Piedmontese version called coppa cotta.
Capocollo is esteemed for its delicate flavor and tender, fatty texture and is often more expensive than most other salumi. In many countries, it is often sold as a gourmet food item. It is usually sliced thin for use in antipasto or sandwiches such as muffulettas, Italian grinders and subs, and panini as well as some traditional Italian pizza.
Varieties and official status
Two particular varieties, Coppa Piacentina and Capocollo di Calabria, have Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status under the Common Agricultural Policy of European Union law, which ensures that only products genuinely originating in those regions are allowed in commerce as such.
Four additional Italian regions produce capocollo, and are not covered under European law, but are designated as "Prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale" (P.A.T.) by the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies:
- Capocollo della Basilicata
- Capocollo del Lazio
- Capocollo tipico senese (finocchiata) (from Toscana)
- Capocollo dell' Umbria
- Canadian Oxford Dictionary 2nd ed., 2004.
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