Typical Italian cured meats: Ciccioli - Ciuighe

Typical Italian cured meats: Ciccioli - Ciuighe

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They consist of more or less fat parts of the pig, cooked for a long time with aromas and spices, in order to completely degrease the dough. The lean part that remains after the melting of the fat is pressed into the shape of thin discs or left in thin flakes.

They are produced in the San Lorenzo in Banale area, in the province of Trento.
A Slow Food Presidium has been established.

It is a typically winter dish with a strong personality: the aromatic charge is dominated by smoky sensations, but in the mouth it allows to perceive a good sensation of seasoned meat, not covered by the acidulous note of turnips. They can be consumed after three or four days of seasoning, while they are still fresh, boiled in water for about twenty minutes. If, on the other hand, they mature for about ten days, the ciuighe take on a greater consistency and can be eaten in slices, like a salami.
The history of the Ciuighe del Banale is the history of extreme poverty in past centuries in the territory of the external Giudicarie, a valley nestled between Lake Garda and the Brenta Dolomites, and its most typical area, San Lorenzo in Banale. Here the families raised a pig, sold the best parts and used the less noble ones, with the addition of a part of turnips, to make the ciuighe (head, heart, lungs in a proportion of 20% and the rest of cooked and chopped turnips). After 150 years, this custom has been preserved but, in the preparation, today the best parts of the pig are also used (shoulder, coppa, bacon, throat, about 70%) and a lower percentage of turnips (about 30% ).
Turnips are cooked in a large cauldron and then squeezed to remove as much water as possible (from 100 kg of turnips you get about 25). They are then added to the minced meat (the proportions are about 30 kg of turnips per 70 of meat), the dough is flavored with fine salt, black pepper and minced garlic and is stuffed into a gentle casing. We then move on to smoking, which lasts eight days. Production begins in October and continues until April and is closely linked to the seasonality of turnips: today it is very limited and is kept alive by a single producer of San Lorenzo in Banale.
The shape is small and elongated, similar to a fir pine cone, which in local dialect is called ciuìga. Having redeemed its past of poverty, the ciuìga is today a real delicacy, to be enjoyed in its natural state, reworked in tasty sauces, combined with boiled potatoes and chicory or mashed potatoes and capusi (cabbage-cap), lying on slices of lightly toasted bread and buttered and even sliced ​​on pizza. But strictly on site, in that secret and beautiful slice of Trentino hidden behind Lake Garda, at the foot of the Adamello Brenta Natural Park. Autumn is its season, when pigs are killed and turnips ripen in the fields. It is in this period that the few, skilled butchers of the Banale show up delicious chains of ciuìghe, worthily celebrated in the Sagra della Ciuìga (early November). For the occasion, the ancient hamlet of Prusa, with the typical houses expertly restored, opens its vaulted ceilings, its courtyards and cellars to the atmosphere of the past, to the traditional melodies of the Alpine arc and to the products that characterize this corner of Trentino. During the days of the Ciuìga Festival, the local restaurants offer delicious food pairings, while in the vòlti of the hamlet it is tasted together with other Trentino products.

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