Martina Franca Capocollo
In Itria valley, known for trulli, traditional dry stone-huts with a conical roof, lies the town of Martina Franca, where Capocollo is made. Capocollo is a pork cold cut, that has been part of Apulian traditional cuisine just as long as orecchiette pasta and taralli crunchy crackers have been.
The history of Capocollo; its decline and revival.
The history of Capocollo dates back to the 18th century, when Martina Franca, along with Apulia, was part of the Kingdom of Naples, and the town was quite well known for the skills and craftsmanship of its pork butchers. Unfortunately, since then their numbers decreased and, between the 1980s and 90s, the Capocollo tradition was on the verge of being lost. However in recent years, the Slow Food Organisation recognised Capocollo as needing protection and, with their support, Martina Franca-made Capocollo received its own branding.
The manufacturing process.
In making capocollo, only the muscle from the neck to the shoulder is used. While the meat is being cut, the best sections are selected, and coated in sea salt, pepper, and various natural seasoning and spices. In order for the flavours to permeate into the meat, it’s left coated in the seasoning for twenty days. Afterwards, the meat is left to soak in locally-produced grape juice for twenty four hours, imparting the grape’s sweetness and fragrance. Thereupon the capocollo is hung to dry for roughly two to three weeks and all moisture has evaporated. After drying, the meat is smoked and cured using fragrant almond shells and oak bark, which instils the signature flavour for which capocollo is known.
Capocollo and Wine: A perfect marriage.
Not only is the bark of the oak trees grown in Puglia’s warm climate used for smoking, but the acorns of the very same trees are the perfect feed for the pigs. It is this oak-infused smoke that gives capocollo its distinct flavour. This full-bodied, mellow pork cold cut contrasts perfectly with a soft, fruity, and sharp wine such as Primitivo di Manduria.
Artecibo editorial board
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