Rarely does a territory have such a strong bond with a product as that which unites the Alto Vastese (Abruzzo region) with ventricina.
In the past, black or red pigs were used to prepare it, while today the most common and widespread white breeds in the area are purchased.
Once the pig has been slaughtered, the noblest parts are separated (the thighs, the loin and the shoulders) which are first carefully trimmed, boned and stripped of the hardest and most fibrous parts (those adhering to the bones) and then cut into small pieces of two or three centimeters, which are left to rest overnight.
They are seasoned with salt and sweet bell pepper powder in equal quantities and in some cases with wild fennel and a sprinkling of pepper.
The bell pepper powder is obtained by drying for a couple of days the peppers, small, sweet red ones from the town of Altino. Then the healthy ones are chosen, opened, cleaned and crushed in a mortar. On average 12 quintals of fresh peppers are needed to obtain one quintal of powder.
The mixture is stuffed into a pig’s bladder, taking care to press it well to allow the air to escape, and a ball of one or two kilos is obtained which will be placed in a net, tied by hand with string and then hung to dry in a room with a lit fireplace for at least seven or eight days. After drying, the ventricina ages in a ventilated and cool environment. After three months the external surface is cleaned from mold and covered with lard, which protects the sausage from insect infiltration and from sudden changes in temperature.
Ventricina is consumed after seven or eight months.
From a pig can be obtained about three large ventricine (a kind of salami); in the past every family cut them only during the important moments of rural life, such as harvesting and grape harvest.
In its territory of origin, cut into large pieces, it is also an ingredient in the meat sauce, but it is usually eaten raw, coarsely sliced with a knife.
The paste has a red-orange color, which also spreads around the pieces of fat, and a fragrant aroma deriving from the long aging and the characteristic spiciness. Sometimes there are citrus notes which derive from the habit of washing the bladders for stuffing in water flavored with oranges or lemons. The final taste is dominated by pungency, which however does not prevail and never hides the taste of meat and spices.
Today the cured meat continues to be produced in the Vasto area, but only a few still follow the techniques of the past, aging it in the cooler areas of the mid- and upper Vasto area.
The six producers of the Presidium have joined together in an association and have drawn up a specification that requires the rearing of heavy pigs in the production area, a diet free of genetically modified organisms and the non-use of chemical preservatives.
The Presidium wants to work with them to promote this noble cured meat outside of the production area and to relaunch a production of extreme quality and respect for tradition.
Middle and upper Vastese area (Chieti province).