Salami is one of the most famous of all Italian ingredients and forms part of antipasto platters and pizza toppings up and down the peninsula. Travelling around Italy however, once again, you notice that every region has its own variations and varieties. Perhaps the most famous Tuscan salami, and certainly my favourite, is finocchiona, a pork and red wine salami flavoured with fennel, a combination that has to be tasted to be believed.
Tuscan salami tends to be quite piccante with the same kind of mouth-puckering kick that you get from a good mature Cheddar cheese. Couple that with the sweet, incense like, fragrance of fennel and you have a match made in … well apparently made in a hedgerow! As with most Italian food, there is a story, this time about a thief, a salami, and a fennel bush. The thief stole the salami from the market in Prato, near Florence, and having been chased out of the town, threw it into a hedgerow. When he came back for it the next day, it was infused with the scent of fennel as it had landed in a bush. Another theory is that some butchers used fennel seeds in the salami as they couldn’t afford black peppercorns and people liked the taste.
Finocchiona comes in all shapes and sizes from small compact sausages, about 5 cms (2 inches) in diameter, to looser grain larger sausages about 15 cms (6 inches) in diameter. Although ubiquitous here, finocchiona can be quite hard to find outside Tuscany. However, if you want to try the flavour for yourself, try sprinkling a few fennel seeds on top of some salami on top of a home made pizza. You’ll see what I mean.
Have you tried finocchiona? Would love to hear what you think. What’s your favourite Italian salami?
Here’s a link to an article on how finocchiona is made from Tuscanycious.
9 thoughts on “Quick guide to Italian ingredients: Finocchiona (fennel salami)”
Hi a friend of me made a similar kind of salami: she is from Avellino and she made the about 3 cm wide and using wild fennel! These were the best salami I had in my life!
She used them fresh as sausages, dried as salami or for longer storage she placed them in a jar covered by oil! CIAO!
That sounds beautiful! The combination of pork and fennel is one of my favourite flavours. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it!
I’ve been trying a variety of salamis from Canon and Canon in Botough Market. We’ve enjoyed some flavoured with hazelnut , truffle. They are quite dry. But very tasty. I haven’t used them in a recipe but they are nice sliced with a glass of wine. I am not really a meat eater but a slice of two of salami is very nice. I often use a spicy chorizo in some dishes.
Those sound amazing. You can get them flavoured with truffle round here and they are usually made from wild boar. Hazelnut, I’ve never tried but it sounds delicious. The larger variation of finocchiona is often really, really soft, so much so that it often sticks together when sliced. A good excuse to shove even more of it into a panino 😉
Suppernut…we’ve been to Borough Market and have tried some of the salami’s you speak of! And Luca, we have had the privilege on a number of visits to Tuscany to sample their salumi! From Dario Cecchini to Falorni and then our favourite, Casamonti (made with Cinta Senese pork! Delicious! Love the finocchiona, love the truffle, and the hazelnut is pretty fine as well! We are lucky to have a shop here in Vancouver that makes some very decent salumi including finocchiona…otherwise we would always be pining for Tuscany!
That sounds excellent. I’m so glad that finocchiona has reached Canada. There is a farm just up the road from here that specialises in cinta senese.
Finocchiona is my favourite! Yum!
Mine too 🙂 I’d live on it if I could!
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