One of the most exciting things happening here at Heritage in the New Year is our newly-forged relationship with Cesare Casella, master Michelin-starred chef, the Dean of Italian Studies at the International Culinary Center and celebrated restaurateur.
Fans of cured meats and Italian food need no introduction, but Cesare, by his own description – is a “pork-crazed Italian.” And we are proud to be introducing his new line of Heritage salume and coming soon, Casella’s prosciutto, cured in New York in the old world style.
“I use spezie forte — spices and herbs perfected 1000 years ago. Sometimes it is called “la droga Italiana.” It’s a type of alchemy that allows me to transform these heritage breed pigs into the best salumi you have ever tasted, and it is only learned through the years. I want to respect and revitalize the methods the original craftsman in my family have passed on to me, traditions that go back centuries to Italy’s original traveling butchers, the norcino.”
Maturing takes place in special rooms and maturation lasts about thirty days. We are always attentive to the selection of the best breeds and we have excellent, direct relationships with the leading farmers.
In the Tuscan countryside, as in the rural hill towns and villages all around Italy, families with farms traditionally bought their pigs in the spring and raised them through the summer and fall. When winter arrived, so did the norcini, the traveling butchers who drove from town to town to make salumi.
When Cesare Casella was growing up outside of Lucca, his family owned Vipore, a countryside trattoria, and his grandfather raised the pork that was served to customers. Cesare’s favorite time of the year was when the norcini arrived. Even before he learned to read and write, he was allowed to help grind the meat, tie up sausage links and hang the prosciutti to cure.
“I was little, but my nose was big and I got it in there. I wanted to see what he was doing,” says Cesare. “It looked like so much fun, making the meat mash and tying up the links. The smells of the spices. Getting the prosciutto ready. And the best part, when my father would pull out a pocket knife and whittle off a chunk of cacciatorini for me. I loved that.”
“Most kids grow up playing with toys. I had my salumi. As a little kid, I slept next to a wooden rack hanging with rows of finocchiella, salametto picante, and salame Toscane.”
Sounds like a pork-crazed Italian to us! The good news is that Cesare’s salume is available from Heritage Foods RIGHT NOW – and that his new line of Heritage prosciutto is on its way! Stay tuned… this story is EPIC!!!
CASELLA’S FIRST HERITAGE HAMS WILL BE AVAILABLE
COMING SOON: CESARE AND THE LEGEND OF THE NORCINI