Sunday, November 13, 2011

The priest’s hat

When I was younger it was traditional after midnight mass on Christmas Eve to go to the bar, drink a glass of Spumante (sparkling wine) and ‘eat the priest’. The joke is a reference to prete (priest), a type of salami which owes its name to the fact that it is shaped like a hat that was worn by priests.

Prepared in the winter months, the recipe depends on the individual cook or butcher. Generally, however, it is made from a mix of pork shoulder and shin, along with pieces of rind, neck, head and other bits. The whole is mixed to a medium grind and left to marinate in spices for 10 days. The mince is then placed into a casing of rind from the shin and stitched to form a triangular purse. Afterwards, it is pressed between two pieces of wood and left to dry out and age in a temperature controlled environment for a period of between 2 and 3 weeks. It is then cooked slowly in boiling water for between 4-5 hours and served with a salsa verde.

Today, at November Porc in Polesine in the Province of Parma, the focus of celebrations was on the cooking of a gigantic prete.  Normally a quiet town along the banks of the river Po, the event attracted huge crowds, so many people in fact that it was all but impossible just to get a look in. It might well have something to do with the fact that once cooked the prete was being given away for free. The idea of standing in a queue for 5 hours didn’t quite appeal to me so I contented myself with buying a regular sized prete from one of the many gastronomic stalls.  Now I’m off home to put in a pot to boil.    


  1. Interesting Mario, but not something I will be cooking.

  2. Don't knock it until you try it Cathy. It's not as bad as it looks or sounds!