Culatello is going through a transformation, those using the name for generations “Culatello” will no longer be permitted to use it. The Culatello di Zibello will be the only D/O/P able to use the name to avoid confusion. This is in the process of becoming law and in the future we will see Culatello as a brand being protected by the 20 producers in the region where Culatello is being produced.
Culatello is made from the large muscle mass in the rear leg of the pig. Creating it means destroying the possibility of making prosciutto. That, combined with it being a relatively small part of the whole leg, its tremendous aging time, the fact that it’s the best part of the leg.
The Culatello is aged in caves that can be 500 years old, and in Massimo Spigaroli’s case, his micro climate in his caves permit the curing to be done in the most natural way possible.
Culatello means, well, “little ass” Massimo explains, whereas prosciutti (plural form) cure in the dry hillside winds above Parma, here, at the riverside the humidity, salt won’t reliably penetrate a whole pork leg. So probably since the Middle Ages the haunch has been cured in two boneless pieces: a lesser ham called “fiocco” and, from the thigh’s meatiest muscle, the Culatello.
Massimo’s hams need their mold, their old curing cellars, their Po fog, and time. There is no better cured meat I have tasted pound for pound. The Culatello pictured is still in the aging process, as it hangs it gains maturation, color and taste. As time goes on the color gets more uniform and the taste is “perfection” of the natural landscapes, cave and skill of Massimo.
Categories: Meaty Days