Did you know about a salami that you can spread on bread? Let’s discover together the ciauscolo: a symbol of rural tradition in Le Marche.
A land of poets and artists, Le Marche is a tourist destination to be discovered not only for its landscapes but also for its genuine cuisine. From fishing products to inland delicacies, travelling through this region you can taste iconic foods from the culinary tradition “of the past”.
Among these specialities, ciauscolo salami (also called “ciavuscolo” or “ciabuscolo”) is the most famous food. What makes this “simple” salami so special? In addition to its flavour, its consistency stands out. This is the result of a series of production techniques together with the use of top-quality ingredients, making it soft and spreadable.
In a notarial deed of 1727, issued in the municipality of Visso in the province of Macerata, it was mentioned for the first time but its roots are even deeper. It is thought that the origin of the name comes from the Latin word “ciabusculum”, meaning “small meal”. It was made from the by-products of pig slaughtering, intended for farmers to help them cope with the exhausting work in the fields.
While it was previously considered a minor product, it has now become an emblem of typicality in Le Marche region. In 2006 it was recognised as a national PGI, while in 2009 it was recognised as a European PGI.
What made this evolution possible? Keep following the article and I will show you all the secrets of this unique food!
How to recognise the real ciauscolo marchigiano PGI
The characteristics that make this product so unique are reflected above all in the place of production. The geographical position of Le Marche in Italy, straddling the mountains and the sea, allows temperate climatic conditions that give ciauscolo an unmistakable taste and aroma.
This favourable climate is concentrated mainly in the hilly areas and near the Apennines where the farming tradition has the most marked origins. In fact, the title as a PGI product is attached to the production of this salami in specific inland municipalities in the provinces of Fermo, Ancona, Ascoli Piceno and Macerata.
What makes this ciauscolo unique are its physical characteristics. What stands out is its pink colour, but above all its texture, which is soft and compact. The sausage is cylindrical in shape with a net weight of between 400 grams and 2.5 kilos.
How ciauscolo is made in Le Marche
Starting from the rural tradition, the methods leading to the production of this traditional food have been refined over time. The indications for the correct production of ciauscolo salami are given in the regulations. This is a document where all the raw ingredients and processing techniques are indicated in order to obtain an authentic PGI product.
The raw ingredients are the basis of its genuineness. Everything starts with the characteristics of the pig used, which must be heavy and belong to traditional breeds (e.g. Large White Italiana or Duroc Italiana). The meat must respect certain parameters: in the overall mixture, there must be a cut of bacon up to a maximum of 70%, shoulder up to a maximum of 40%, trimmings of ham and loin up to a maximum of 30%.
The other ingredients must enhance the quality of the meat. Salt, crushed garlic, wine and ground black pepper are added to the mixture. They also allow the meat to be preserved for a long time. While these ingredients are essential, others can be used to further enhance the preservation of the meat. Certain additives such as lactose, dextrose and L-ascorbic acid allow the unique flavours of this salami from Le Marche to be maintained over time.
Finally, the casing must also have certain characteristics. It must be of natural origin, from pork or beef. Before being used, it is flavoured and treated to remove the salt.
Once we have presented the ingredients, all that’s left to do is find out how it’s made! The typical spreadable consistency of ciauscolo salami comes from a meticulous grinding of the mixture. It is carried out several times (max. 3) using a “meat grinder” machine, progressively decreasing the diameter of the holes as it is ground. Once minced, it is mixed with the other ingredients by hand, according to tradition, or using machines. Finally, it is tied at both ends with hemp twine.
All the stages of maturation are extremely important, so that ciauscolo marchigiano PGI acquires all the aromas that characterise it. You will only be able to taste this food after it has undergone an appropriate period of maturation.
The salami is left to rest for about 2 weeks in special rooms with controlled temperature and humidity. During this period, the ciauscolo dries, losing the excess water and maintaining its characteristic consistency.
After the maturing period, it is ready to be enjoyed! You will also find the wording “mountain product” only if the factories where the production phases take place are located in mountain areas.
A well extended family
While the undisputed star is the ciauscolo PGI from Le Marche, honourable mention must also go to the other “guest stars”.
If you walk around the region, you will come across other variations, such as the non-PGI “Vissuscolo”. It takes its name from the town where it is produced (Visso). Unlike the ciauscolo PGI, it undergoes a longer maturing process.
For stronger palates, there is liver ciauscolo. It is made by replacing part of the pig’s fat with its liver, taking on a red colour and a stronger taste.
Indeed, in some Umbrian municipalities such as Norcia and Spoleto, we can also find a regional variant very similar to the original ciauscolo.
One product, a thousand realities
Over time, regional cuisine is making increasing use of this cured meat from Le Marche, creating dishes with a refined yet traditional taste. Its characteristics make it suitable for starters and first courses. Below you will find a couple of easy and tasty recipes, suitable even for novice cooks.
What could be better than olive ascolane? Olive ascolane with ciauscolo inside! This recipe is a combination of the two most famous Le Marche food delicacies. The brilliant idea consists in replacing the filling of the traditional olive ascolane, made with different types of meat, with this cured meat. Once stuffed, olive ascolane are breaded, fried and possibly paired with a nice glass of white wine, such as Pecorino di Offida.
If you are a great lover of first courses, pasta with broad beans, ciauscolo and Varnelli is the dish for you. Let yourself be carried away by the freshness of the broad beans and the flavour of ciauscolo flavoured with Varnelli, a typical Marche aniseed liqueur.
Thanks to Italia Delight, you can taste ciauscolo marchigiano PGI and other Le Marche food specialities on your next tailor-made food holidays. What are you waiting for? 😉