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
, the focus of celebrations was on the cooking of a gigantic prete. Normally a quiet town along the banks of the river Province of Parma 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.