How to Dry Cure Coppa: Part 2

How to Make Coppa, continued…

Hello friends and welcome back to the wonderful world of salumi and curing coppa!  In this post, we’ll finish the process to dry cure coppa. If you don’t remember where we left off in our adventure with our good friends Rico and Lola – they were last seen trapped under a brick having the moisture squeezed out of them drop by drop.  Please see episode 1 here for all the details…

 

Escape From the Cure

Episode 2 begins with the stars of show ready to emerge from their trap and to begin the next phase of their metamorphosis into delectable morsels for us to enjoy.  As a reminder, we are curing coppa here – that wonderfully marbled, tender meat from the butt (shoulder) of the pig that runs from its neck down to the 4th or 5th rib along the backbone.

The coppa have been on the cure at this point for 2 days under about 8# of weight in the form of cinder block from my garden.  I’ve flipped them after the first day and redistributed the cure at that time.  Once I remove the brick, this is how Lola looks:

dry cure coppa - jason price seattle

Lola after the first cure

 

When we remove the coppa from the bag, you can see the compression of the meat and herbs:

dry cure coppa - jason price seattle

Coppa after the first cure is complete

 

When curing coppa we rinse to remove the rest of the ingredients from the first cure.  You can rinse with water and then rub the coppa with dry white wine based on your personal preference.  Pat down with paper towels to remove excess moisture once the rinse is complete.

dry cure coppa - jason price seattle

The coppa after being rinsed

 

At this stage, the coppa is ready to be seasoned with the second part of the process and stuffed for hanging.

 

How to Dry Cure Coppa

The second stage of the process is performed to remove extra moisture from the coppa, add the aromatics based on your recipe and, most importantly, to deepen the flavors within the meat.  There is no need to use extra cure or pink salt at this point as the first salt cure does the job and will adequately prevent bacterial growth on/in the coppa.

You can use a number of flavor combinations in curing your coppa depending on your tastes.  In this instance, I’ve used a tablespoon each of toasted fennel and black pepper for Lola and juniper and black pepper for Rico.

After the aromatics have been applied, it’s time to bring out the casing.  In this case I’ve used 5 cm beef bung to case each coppa in and have soaked it for about 45 minutes and then rinsed it thoroughly.  Typically, these will come packed in salt and can be kept in your refrigerator for 9-12 months if airtight.  The salt pack needs to be removed by soaking in luke warm water.  I have good a good local source in Oversea Casing here in Seattle but you can also find casings online at merchants such as Butcher and Packer.

dry cure coppa - jason price seattle

Rico next to his friend, the beef bung

 

Stuffing a large coppa into a smaller beef bung takes work.  When doing so, you need to be sure to not stretch the bung too much else it will break.

dry cure coppa - jason price seattle

Stuffing the coppa into its new home – the beef bung

 

When you finally finish this process (which can take a bit of time) then you need to make sure that no air bubbles are trapped in the base of the bung.  Trapped air can lead to bacterial growth which = bad juju for coppa and ultimately you if you eat it.  Use a sausage knife to poke holes all over the casing to remove air bubbles.  Here’s a photo of me with the coppa finally nearly stuffed into the base of the bung:

dry cure coppa - jason price seattle

The coppa nearly stuffed

 

The last step of this process is tying.  Here you’ll need to use a bubble knot which effectively creates a little air lock between the coppa and the outside world like so:

dry cure coppa - jason price seattle

The elusive but essential bubble knot

 

Now, you’re cooking with gas (well, not really but I just like to say that).

dry cure coppa - jason price seattle

Coppa ready to hang

Anyway, once you are knotted all up you are ready to go hang this in your drying chamber/wine fridge/basement/garage/man cave.  I’ve always thought it would be cool to have a man cave that you could just walk over, grab a salami hanging from the ceiling, and eat it while cracking open a good bottle from the adjacent wine rack that would be requisite in such a set up.

 

Hang ’em High

Now that we’ve gone through the first cure, rubbed our coppa lovingly with aromatics, and given it a nice, cozy new home to dry in; we’re ready to hang them.  Not every one has a curing room with ideal conditions but if you have a space that stays between 55-65 degrees and 60-70% relative humidity you are in luck.  Our basement in Seattle is very close to those ranges so I’m using it for now until I save my pennies and put together a proper curing room.

dry cure coppa - jason price seattle

Coppa ready for the basement to dry

 

Before hanging your coppa, make sure to note their weight as you should be targeting about a 30% weight loss to make sure they are ‘done’.  The time it takes to get there will vary based on temperature, humidity, quality of meat and water content.  Here’s our lovely Rico and Lola after about 2 weeks of hanging.  At this point, they’ve lost only about 15% of their original weight but have taken on a nice tone as they continue to dry.

dry cure coppa - jason price seattle

Coppa after 2 weeks of drying

 

After another 2 weeks or so, Rico and Lola continue to dry nicely.  Here they are hanging out with their friend, Rollo the pancetta (more on him later).

dry cure coppa - jason price seattle

Coppa hanging with Pancetta Arrotolata

 

Now we’re looking at about 25% weight loss – only a few more weeks to go!

 

The Reveal

Good things come to those who wait.  And in the case of coppa it’s no different.  After spending about 4.5 weeks in my basement, the coppa reaches its target weight.  This may be more rapid weight loss than you experience depending on temperature, humidity levels, air flow and the moisture content of the pork.  Getting to 30-35% weight loss may range anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks or more depending on conditions.

I decide to sample Rico first.

dry cure coppa - jason price seattle

Coppa, simply delicious

 

I’m overwhelmed by the depth of flavor in the coppa.  The juniper is well pronounced – perhaps a bit too much but I can scale that back next time.  The black pepper is just right. Most importantly, the texture and firmness are spot on.  No dreaded case hardening leading to a hard shell and moist interior.  The flavors are good but I think Rico could use a bit more time to dry.  So, I wrap him in wax paper and pop him into the fridge to slowly age and eat over the next month or so.

 

What’s Next?

After curing coppa, I’m ready to take on some other great salumi.  I’m going to try my hand at pancetta tesa (flat) and arrotolata (rolled) as well as guanciale (jowel).  I’m also working on several types of sausage which I’ll share on here in the near future.  Stay tuned for more and be sure to check out my other posts on charcuterie and salumi here!

If you are interested in reading about more ways to cure meat then check out my selection of charcuterie preparations on The Hungry Dog Blog.

Please leave a comment on this post

  1. In fear of looking clueless – question : After drying, is it safe to eat the beef bung as the outer casing? I’ve looked for this answer, and was hoping you could shed some light on this!

    • Hey Aaron – I’m sure you could eat it but I’m not sure why you would. After curing, the bung has a paper-like texture which is quite unappealing to chew on. That said, if you ingested a bit of it by accident it would do you no harm.

    • hi – I don’t know enough about the subject really, but I think this is a good question. I eat the “skin” of salami which – I’m not sure – is probably also encased in beef bung, or sausage casing as we call it. Jason?

      • The casing can be natural or synthetic. Both are edible but the general preference is to not eat them. Typically, they’d be coated in mold as well so not really appetizing.

  2. Pingback: Down at the Coppa | The Hungry Dog Blog | Jason Price, Seattle

  3. Hi – very nice blog. I’m inspired! And there’s plenty of free-range pork around where I live.
    However, I thought “butt” was at the other end of the pig (or any animal).
    Is this just because I’m South African?
    I thought butt was more or less universal 🙂

  4. Wow, thanks for the ‘journey’ type narration. I just butchered my first home-raised pig 3 days ago… and it was a really pleasant adventure. All 260 lbs of it. Next time, I’ll be looking for the coppa muscles…

  5. Hi Jason, I am making coppa myself: been following the recipe of my uncle. Only thing is I went down to check on it and part of the casing broke. Not a huge part, but I won’t be able to sew it back together — way too dry. Any advice on what to do?

      • I think it’s been about 2 weeks now and the casing is dry. I asked a buddy at work today and he suggested putting some unscented wax over it and allowing it to harden. Doesn’t seem like a terrible idea…your thoughts on that or another solution? Thanks for any help!

      • Brian – at this point I think you will be fine. If you notice any dark mold growth around the area simply wipe it with brine. Your cure should be enough to ward off any bad bacterial growth and the like. I wouldn’t put wax on it.

  6. Thanks for the inspiring posts. I’m gearing up to start on my own charcuterie adventures (waiting on Ruhlman’s book) and was just wondering how long do these salumi keep? Is it years? and do they benefit from the aging? Thanks.

    • Great posts here, I particularly like the naming of the pieces.
      But for your question about how long salumi might keep…properly cured salumi should be edible indefinitely. If not vacuum packaged, it will continue to dry and the flavours will intensify as it get harder. Of course you will reach a point when your coppa becomes so dry it will be like jerky, but still safe to eat. Some fine prosciutti in Italy are aged for 5 years or more, and become so dry that they have to be eaten with butter or lard.
      In general, most dry cured salami/salumi that are commerically produced and vacuum packaged have a best before date of 1 year.

  7. Do you have any more detail on tying bubble knot? I see it mentioned on a lot of forums but the only video I could find isn’t in english and they move too fast. Thanks.

  8. I’d always use a cure with either a nitrate or nitrite in it to prevent botulism These can be obtained via various merchants on the internet or you local butchers sundries purveyor. Some countries are somewhat leery about selling SALTPETRE on it’s own now as it can be use as a component of several explosive mixture including GUNPOWDER/ BLACK POWDER. This was used by the ”BOSTON BOMBERS” in the form of ”broken down fireworks in a pressure cooker I believe
    I trained as a Meat Inspector and Food Hygienist with a UK government agency as well as being. at one time, a pro butcher. Nitrates/nitrites also preserve the ”pink/red colour associated with cured meat products. I doubt that the USA Federal Agencies would allow professional curers NOT to USE nitrates/nitrates. By the way here in the UK there is a minor movement to produce ”saltless bacon”!! A contridiction of terms if ever there was one!! Talk about bleddy ignorance!!

    • Hi Albert – thanks for taking the time to comment. I always use #1 or #2 when curing ground product as the surface to air ratio and potential for air pockets in the meat is much greater than when curing whole muscle. However, I rarely, if ever, use #1 or #2 when curing whole muscles. The salt used in the cure is generally ample and pervades the meat to the point where it is inhospitable enough for bacteria to grow.

      This technique is proven and well documented. Check out any of Ruhlman/Polcyn’s books. Also, ask any Italian if they use nitrates or nitrites when making prosciutto, coppa, lardo, lonza, etc.