A big bellied fella at the beach BBQ once told me, in passing, with a whiney New Yorkey accent and diarrhea colored sun glasses, wedged into his sweaty face by bloated cheeks, that the name mortadella is derived from the Latin murtatum, which flimsily translates to “a sausage seasoned with myrtle berries”. Pervert. A weenie professor type at another party insisted that the name was derived from the traditional mortar (moraio) used to mash the pork into a paste, and that such mortars were alleged to have been depicted in Roman funerary stones found in Bologna blah-blah-blah. I swiped his drink, stuck the swizzle-stick in my cap, and called his story out as baloney. My pants caught the handle of a kitchen drawer as I turned about dramatically, ripping out the crotch. Instant Karma they say. It’ll getcha. And a delectable 38 year-old Sophia Lauren starred in a crappy movie of the same name, though equally star-studded (Danny DeVito being the pistachio of Hollywood’s elite mixed nuts).
There are easier things to do than turning pork and fat into a smooth paste, like napping with cats and yesteryear Sophia Lauren. Having the right equipment helps, namely a proper grinder and proper refrigeration. Keep the meat cold, on the cusp of frozen, grind the fat first while the grinder is cold, grind progressively through smaller dies, don’t forget about what is cooking on the stove, chill in between grinds, purée, then purée again. Grated ice and egg whites help to keep the mixture cold, stone cold for a proper emulsion. An excessively powered food processor or extreme blending machine will do the trick. A modest Cuisinart worked well before.
After seasoning with salt, curing salt, mace, nutmeg, paprika, maraca, black pepper and puréeing anew, diced fatback and chopped pistachios are mixed in. Oh hell, some ebony peppercorns too. Whole pistachios were used in the initial versions, but it didn’t slice so well on the slicer. At all. Made a mess. And that made me sad L. The forcemeat is then stuffed into a bung cap, left to cure overnight and then given the tip-top hot-tub treatment. The bloated, stuffed meattube in a water bath could be the charcuterie allegory for just about any unabashed summer-time American patriot, but it takes a lot more concerted effort, theory, practice, technique and discipline to get that proper combination of lean, fat and garnish so sung a skin suit.