Cooking

A hidden paradise surrounded by the clearest water Italy has to offer, Calabria is an undiscovered region rich in powerful flavors. This idyllic land is filled with many species of trees that range from bergamot and citron to lemon, palm, oleander, almond, chestnut, fig, olive, and pepper trees. These natural elements are used as important ingredients in the local cuisine.

Calabrian cuisine is among the most flavorful and spicy food Italy has to offer, abounding in seafood and vegetables. The most commonly cooked fish are swordfish and tuna, which are mainly caught on the western coast. Bottarga, or preserved tuna roe, is a local specialty and features prominently in many traditional dishes.

The abundance of sheep in the area is the source of Calabria's various lamb dishes and some of its many cheeses. Calabria is also famous for its caciocavallo, a cow's milk cheese that is good raw but even better grilled alongside some vegetables. Eggplant and peppers are cooked in sauces, pickled, grilled, or fried as an appetizer, main course, or side dish.

If you are a pepper lover and are traveling through Calabria, order a peperonata, a stew of peppers and meaty local capers. Chili peppers are dominant and used in everything from cured meats to pasta. Particularly famous are Calabrian spicy sausages, or soppressata, which are excellent appetizers or sandwich fillers. Figs, chestnuts, and almonds are mainly used in desserts like Fichi Ripieni (Stuffed Figs), a specialty of Cosenza that tops dried figs with cocoa, almonds, and other nuts. These few ingredients are essential to local cooking and are the basis of many flavorful dishes.

Soppressata - Calabria

Taste of 'soppressata' from Calabria depends on the lean meat used, selected from parts of pork leg and fillet and deprived of nerves.
The sausage mixture, containing first quality bacon which guarantees its softness, is minced into small cubes to give softness, is then minced into small cubes. The result is a high quality product, appreciated by gourmet food lovers.
Calabrian cured meats date back to the period of the Greek colonies. The first written reference belongs to the seventeenth century and it describes the methods used for treating pork. More recent evidence of the production of sausages in Calabria is contained in a census carried out in the times of Joachim Murat which noted the use of spices and extracts from local plants to add extra flavour to meats.
Calabrian cured meat comes from locally-raised hogs. During treatment, natural flavours such as cumin, black pepper, red pepper and chilli peppers are added to the meat which is then aged. Depending on the type of product, the ageing process may last from a minimum of thirty to a maximum of one hundred days. The shapes of the products also vary. Capocollo, Pancetta, Salsiccia and Soppressata are produced in an environment created by a climate typical of the Italian Mediterranean. All phases of production, preparation and treatment of the meats may be carried out anywhere within the region of Calabria.

Calabrian Peppers

  • 4 large red or yellow peppers, washed, quartered and seeded
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce grated pecorino cheese
  • 1 ounce grated white bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoons fresh capers
  • 1 pinch dried oregano salt

Pour the olive oil into a large pan and warm it up. Cut the peppers in vertical slices or large cubes and sauté them in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Remove half of the olive oil and add the bread crumbs, the cheese, capers, oregano, and salt. Combine well, cook for 2 minutes and remove from the heat. Let rest for about 10 minutes so that the flavors mingle. Serves 4 as a side dish.

Capocollo di Calabria (DOP)

Calabrian cured meats date back to the period of the Greek colonies. The first written reference belongs to the seventeenth century and it describes the methods used for treating pork. More recent evidence of the production of sausages in Calabria is contained in a census carried out in the times of Joachim Murat which noted the use of spices and extracts from local plants to add extra flavour to meats. Calabrian cured meat comes from locally-raised hogs. During treatment, natural flavours such as cumin, black pepper, red pepper and chilli peppers are added to the meat which is then aged. Depending on the type of product, the ageing process may last from a minimum of thirty to a maximum of one hundred days. The shapes of the products also vary. Capocollo, Pancetta, Salsiccia and Soppressata are produced in an environment created by a climate typical of the Italian Mediterranean. All phases of production, preparation and treatment of the meats may be carried out anywhere within the region of Calabria.

Caciocavallo Silano (DOP)

The Italian name of this cheese may be related to the practice of hanging the moulds astride (a cavallo) horizontal rods. Caciocavallo Silano is a stringy semi-hard cheese. The rind contains small grooves left by the restraining cords. It is made from cow's milk and ripened for at least fifteen days. Caciocavallo Silano can be oval or else shaped like a truncated cone, sometimes with a small knob at the top, depending on local custom. The cheese is produced over a wide area that encompasses several town districts in the regions of Calabria, Campania, Molise and Basilicata and in the provinces of Foggia, Bari, Brindisi and Taranto

Bergamotto di Reggio Calabria (DOP)

Bergamot is the fruit of Citrus Bergamia, a small, evergreen tree of the rue family. It is a beautiful yellow-color, pear-shaped fruit weighing an average of 3.5 ounces. Bergamots are cultivated only in a narrow strip of the Calabrian coastland extending for about 60 miles from Villa San Giovanni to Gioiosa Jonica, between the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian Seas, in the province of Reggio Calabria.

The origins of Bergamot remain obscure; it is thought that it might be the result of the mutation of another citrus species. Legend has it that bergamot was imported into Europe from the Canary Islands, where it had been introduced by Christopher Columbus. Whatever its origins, this strip of coastland in Calabria is the only place in the world where bergamot meets its optimal conditions for fructification. The first bergamot grove was planted in 1750 by a certain Nicola Parisi in his Giunchi estate near Reggio Calabria. Back then the essence of the fruit was extracted manually by pressing the rind onto natural sponge placed over special containers. Nowadays, extraction takes place through abrasion. In 1844 the first industrial methods were employed in the extraction of bergamot essence. The machine used in this process was called "Macchina Calabrese." This machine, invented by Nicola Barillà, reduced the amount of time required to extract the essence while increasing both its quantity and quality.The essential oil of Bergamot has 350 chemical components. It is used in perfume industries worldwide both as fixing agent for other perfumes and to enhance their fragrance. Bergamot is also used in the production of cosmetics, soap and toothpaste. Thanks to its antiseptic and antibacterial attributes, bergamot is also used in the pharmaceutical industries around the world. Last but not least, its essence is used in the production of liquors, tea, candies, candied fruit, ice cream and soft drinks.

Clementina di Calabria (IGP)

The clementine of Italy is the tangerine of English-speaking countries. The English term is derived from Tangiers in North Africa and it is possible that this variety of orange was first grown and consumed there. It is a hybrid citrus fruit and is probably a cross between mandarin and bitter oranges. This fruit has few if any seeds and features a large supply and variety of sugars, acids, vitamins, calcium and phosphorous. The clementine di Calabria, cultivated in the provinces of Reggio Calabria, Catanzaro, Cosenza, Vibo Valentia and Crotone, are particularly noted for their delectable flavor and remarkable freshness. The region cultivates the fruit of the common, Fedele, Hernandina, Marisol, Nules, Spinosa, SRA 63 and Tardiva varieties. The peels are loose, smooth and dark orange in color. They are spherical in shape and somewhat flat at either end. The pulp is extremely juicy, yielding and aromatic. The tangerines grow in soils of medium consistency and the maximum density permitted under the production code is 486 trees an acre. They must be cultivated at a substantial distance from mandarin orange orchards to avert cross-pollination, which would result in a fruit with numerous seeds. Maximum output of this citrus fruit is set at 15.6 tons an acre. The Calabrian clementina ripens earlier than other varieties-at the beginning of October.




     
   
 
 
 
 
     

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