The origin of Spalla Cotta di San Secondo, one of the local specialties, dates to a remote past.
Spalla Cotta is one of the oldest cured meats in Parma: the first documented citations date back to the year 1170.
It is known for certain that this particular cold cut, produced in a very specific area of the Parma plain between the inhabited areas of Fontanellato, Roccabianca and Pieveottoville, of which San Secondo is the epicenter, was already known and appreciated in Roman times.
Until, over time, it reached the palate of Maestro Giuseppe Verdi who loved this cold cut a lot, so much so that he often gave a taste of it to friends and relatives by including advices to serve it and taste it at its best.
In one of the Maestro’s letters that have come down to us, Verdi talk to a family to whom he gave the Spalla Cotta, providing instructions to prepare it well:
«Metterla nell’acqua tiepida
per circa dodici ore onde levargli il sale,
trasferirla in acqua fredda e poi farla bollire
a fuoco lento, onde non scoppi, per
circa tre ore e mezza. Per sapere se la
cottura è al punto giusto si fora la spalletta
con un curedents [stuzzicadenti]»
«Put it in warm water
for about twelve hours to remove the salt,
transfer it to cold water and then boil it
over low heat, so as not to burst it, to
about three and a half hours. To know if the
cooking is at the right point the shoulder is pierced
with a “curedents” [toothpick]»
The cooked shoulder of San Secondo is obtained from the front shoulder of the pig, the scapula, which after being boned, is left to rest raw in the aromas (the most frequent are salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg) for 15 days. It is then tied by hand in order to give the cold cut the appearance of a large sphere, then starts the seasoning for 25/30 days.
La Spalla Cotta (Cooked Shoulder Ham) has a bright pink color, it is soft and fragrant, tasty, with few parts of fat, to be enjoyed both hot and cold.
One of its characteristics is the hand-made cut, in a coarse way, to obtain a slightly thick slice, ideal if accompanied with torta fritta (hot fried cakes), little portions of salty dough cooked in oil, a typical product of the Emilian province.
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Your Local Food Guide – Valerio
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