Food Lovers Encyclopedia: Aging Gracefully

Long an underground practice, dry-curing meats is on the rise, thanks to L.A.’s first sanctioned salumi bar

Photograph by Misha Gravenor

The curing room in back of Mozza’s Scuola di Pizza is more like a coat closet, stacked floor to ceiling with ashy, rust-colored bundles. The contents of the converted walk-in fridge—legally dry-cured meats—are the first of their kind in L.A. “You’re asking to take raw pork, let it hang out for months at 10 degrees hotter than a refrigerator, and then serve it,” says chef Chad Colby. It’s understandable, he explains, that health inspectors would be wary of operations like Mozza’s, where the traditional Italian methods of pre-serving sausages and whole muscles are used. It took more than a year of educating local officials and rigorous testing, but eventually Colby was given permission to dry-cure everything from unctuous speck to Barolo-infused salami. Since May the results have been served on Thursday nights at the Scuola’s Salumi Bar, which Mozza plans on expanding soon. The program is a breakthrough for the city’s chefs, many of whom have been curing on the sly for years. With Mozza clearing the way, we see a sausagefest in our future.

1. Coppa
This heavily marbled pork shoulder has been curing since March.

2. Pancetta
Essentially bacon, the fatty pork belly tastes sweet and reveals beautiful stripes when sliced.

3. Tellicherry Pepper Salami
A natural casing is stuffed with Berkshire pork and black peppercorns.

4. Aleppo Pepper Salami
Ground Berkshire pork is mixed with Syrian Aleppo pepper.

5. Capicola
Pork shoulder and neck are cured whole, similar to coppa.

6. Tocai Salami
The Italian wine formerly known as Tokaji seasons the meat.

7. Christmas Salami
Baking spices season a holiday sausage studded with red and green peppercorns.

8. Mulefoot Prosciutto
The swine that sacrificed its leg is jokingly called a “kosher pig” because of its uncloven hoof.

9. Finocchiona
Fennel seed, Mozza’s favorite ingredient, stars in this salami.

Three Salumi Speakeasies

They’re not exactly legal, but that makes them cooler

Salt’s Cure
Zak Walters and Chris Phelps focus on whole-muscle cures, like a boneless prosciutto and pork shoulder for coppa.

Lamb belly pancetta and Armenian air-dried sausages are some of Micah Wexler’s latest experiments.

The Churchill
Chef Bruce Kalman admits to curing duck prosciutto and guanciale— but you didn’t hear that from us.