Guide to Homemade Capicollo

Also known as coppa, capicola, or capocollo, capicollo takes its name from the cut of meat that consists of the upper portion of the pig’s neck (collo) and shoulder.The meat is salted and massaged before being stuffed into a natural beef casing. It is then seasoned with various spices and aged for approximately two months.

Here’s a guide to making this Italian classic in the comfort of your own cantina.

Ingredients

• 1,5 kg pork shoulder

• 1/4 cup ground black pepper

• 1/4 cup “Montreal” spices

• 2 cups white wine

• Beef budello (beef casing) (One beef casing should be enough for two to three capicolli)

• 500 g coarse salt

Tools

• Butcher twine

• Elasticised net (found at your local butcher shop)

• PVC pipe 5 to 6 inches in diameter with one side rounded (sand down one edge so it doesn’t rip the net)

• “S” hook

• Pan for salting

• Plywood planks for pressing

Salting

  • Place the capicollo on a large pan and uniformly cover it with coarse salt. Salt it for one day per kilo of its weight (one to two days for 1.5 kg). After this time, wash off the salt with lukewarm water.

Marinating and seasoning

  • Pour two cups of white wine into a large bowl. Add in each dry ingredient separately, whisking each time to prevent clumping so the marinade will spread evenly on the meat.
  • Once it reaches a smooth consistency dunk the meat into the bowl and allow it to marinate for about 30 seconds, turning once or twice to make sure the capicollo is uniformly covered.

Stuffing the beef casing

  • To discard impurities rinse the beef casing twice by filling it with lukewarm water. Tie one end of the beef casing with butcher twine. Stretch the remaining opening and roll the casing, as if putting on a sock, in order to slowly slip the meat into it.
  • Knock off the excess marinade from the meat before pushing the capicollo into the beef casing.
  • Don’t try to fill it all at once as it won’t work. It’s better to proceed a bit at a time. Once the capicollo is inside the casing, grab the top end of the casing and give it a little yank to make sure that the meat moves all the way down.
  • Then tie the loose end of the beef casing with a double knot making sure there is as little air as possible left inside. Cut off the excess butcher twine and beef casing. You are now ready to fit the capicollo into the net.
  • * You can find beef casings at every butcher shop. You can also use synthetic casing especially made for cured meats, but it is usually much more expensive. Both are very effective.

Fitting into the net

  • While this may look easy, it is a crucial step. It is very important that the capicollo slides to the bottom of the net or the whole process will have to be repeated.
  • Make a double knot at one end of the net leaving a loop so that it can be hung. Slide down the open end of the net onto the PVC pipe along the sanded edge to prevent the net from ripping.
  • Once pulled properly, the grid of the net at the bottom of the PVC pipe should be tight like the net of a tennis racket. Put the PVC pipe on a table with the net facing down.
  • Then drop the capicollo into the tube and shake the pipe in an up and down motion so the capicollo gets tightly tangled inside the net with no excess space, slowly letting the net slide off the tube.
  • Once inside the net, slide the remaining part of the net off the tube and twist it as tightly as possible around the meat.
  • Tie the open end leaving a loop for hanging.

Hanging and aging

  • Hang the capicollo for one week. Then press it between two planks of plywood and use heavy weights on top (concrete blocks, bricks, etc) for another week. This will remove the remaining air contained in the meat and give the capicollo its flat, elongated shape. It is better to do this step with various capicolli to have a more even pressing surface.
  • Once this is complete, hang the capicollo for two to three months depending on the weight. Make sure the capicolli are not touching to avoid molding.

written by Sergio Mattoscio