Italian Cured Meats: Coppa (or Capicola)

Coppa. Source:  Alexandra Moss

Coppa. Source: Alexandra Moss

The Basics

Definition: Pig neck or shoulder, cured, and dried. 

Origin: 15th Century, Southern Italy.

Etymology: The word can be derived from the Italian word "Capo",which means "head", and "Collo", which means "neck". The Italian word "Coppa" means "nape", which represents the ham's particular cut.

Curing Process: First, the meat is cut and cleaned. Then the meat is seasoned with a mixture of salts and herbs (bay leaves, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and peppers). 

Usually, the meat would be dried for several days before placed in a natural membrane, or casing. This casing is made of sub-mucosa, a layer of the intestine, which is high in collagen. The casing is called a Parietal Peritoneum Membrane. When the meat is smoked, casing allows for the smoke and flavor to be balanced throughout the meat. Once sealed and tied, the coppa will be placed in a curing chamber where it will mature and dry for a few months. 

Coppa. Source:  Dietrich Ayala .

Coppa. Source: Dietrich Ayala.

Use: Coppa is usually sliced thin and served as an antipasto. It can be eaten in sandwiches or on pizzas as a topping. Coppa can be used as a substitute for prosciutto. 

Eat: Coppa should be pink in color.

Taste: Tender, fatty in texture. It is often seasoned with red pepper and other herbs and spices so it is rich in flavor with a slightly spicy finish. The meat is also marbled very well.