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Hearty Italian Meats

Hearty Italian Meats

Hearty Italian Meats

My step-son Walker was 9 when I met him.  Like most 9 year old kids, he was a pretty picky eater. I could count on my fingers the things he would eat.  I remember a time when he wouldn’t even want jelly on his peanut butter sandwich.  Seriously, a PB & nothing?

When he moved to Pittsburgh I made it my personal mission to get him to try as many foods as possible.  Needless to say, this was a challenge.  I tried numerous techniques to get him to explore my culinary world, but to no avail.  Bribing with cash didn’t work.  Neither did a promise of yummy dessert.  On the rare occasion where I could get him to try something new, it was often met with the repulsive look of disgust almost instantly after the food hit his tongue.  A few times it was even greeted with the “YUCK!  This is absolutely the worst thing I ever ate” gag effect.  I hadn’t even gotten to the REALLY tough foods yet.  You know, like jelly on that sandwich.

As a parent who knew there was life beyond chicken fingers, I never gave up.  Slowly but surely we kept trying new foods.  A plain taco  was a good start.  Homemade Mac n’ Cheese soon followed.  Eventually he would graduate to more and more foods, even eventually requesting to try something new without me asking.

A few years ago, I introduced him to a wonderful meat platter known as Charcuterie.   Pronounced “shar koo tour e”, this fancy word simply refers to meats that have been cured and preserved. Since our Charcuterie plate most always consists of Italian meats, Walker dubbed this meal “Hearty Italian Meats” and has been referred to in our house as such ever since.

Today I’m proud to say, there is isn’t much Walker won’t try.  And God forbid if I forget to put jelly on his sandwich.

While your own Hearty Italian Meat plate can have anything you want, here is what typically makes up ours.

Proscuitto di Parma – salt-cured ham.  Sliced thin, this almost melts in your mouth.  At around $20 per pound, this meat is very expensive, but well worth it and is the “signature” meat on any plate.

Sopressata – This is hard cured sausage made of pork, spiced with pepper in a thin casing, similar to salami.

Bresola – an air-dried, salted beef, typically top-round, with no casing.  Again, not a cheap meat, but a little goes a long way.

No plate is complete without some cheese, crusty bread, and briny olives. The plate pictured above has fresh mozzarella, fresh ricotta, and an assortment of olives.

Most high-end markets, or if your city has them, more specialized stores, carry these and other meats.  Here in Pittsburgh, I typically buy at Penn Mac in the Strip, Uncommon Market near South Hills Village, or Giant Eagle Market Districts.

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  1. May 15, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    mmmmmmmmmmmm, who DOESNT love good italian meats? great story, dennis! it’s nice when you watch kids grow out of their picky eating habits.

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