Making Salami

By Jacqui Pierce, printmaker and artist, Wodonga

Thirty-five years ago Judy Pierce resided in an iconic terrace house in the back streets of Fitzroy with two small daughters and a working husband. On sunny days she would peer through the branches of her fig tree into the next door neighbour’s backyard and smile with glee. A traditional Italian mother and her children were making salami. With courage born through an insatiable love of salami, Judy plucked up the courage to ask the Italian mother to teach her how to make salami, and teach this young mum she did.

Thirty-five years later, armed with hundred year old, Italian salami secrets, Judy passed this knowledge on to her now adult children, in particular her salami loving son, Adam. Kilos of pork were bought, as were fennel seeds, peppercorns, salt and a meat curing agent. Meticulously, 1 kilo pork fat was trimmed from the shoulders of pork, diced and weighed; a most important process as the fat is the flavour, and a necessary component to any great salami, Judy recalls. Amateur knife skills were tested as six kilos of lean meat was carefully cut and weighed to ensure the finished salami had a depth of flavour as well as structural integrity.

Remembering a simpler time, Adam and Judy chose to forgo the butcher’s offer of mincing all their meat, and chose instead to use a 1960s hand wound silver grinder. Seven kilos of raw meat and fat was pushed and prodded through the old silver grinder, coming to rest in a giant inch high slab of meat. Peppercorns, toasted fennel seeds, salt and curing agent were then sprinkled over the mix. Unwilling to wait three months to taste their produce, Adam and Judy cooked a piece of salami meat, and to their delight it had a hint of taste they so fondly remember, the delicious rich flavour of Italian salamis that hang from the produce stalls at the Vic Market. The intestine casings, which had been soaking for the better part of the morning, were carefully unravelled from their plastic housing and attached to the end of the old silver grinder.

While Adam cradled the casing, Judy gently encouraged the meat through the grinder, and the Pierce salamis were born. The first was but a nubbin, the second and third exploded from their skin but beyond the initial missteps the salamis were perfect. And 38 salamis were made.