Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews
The traditional cured meat of Bologna meets its match at the Deli
Speaking of sandwiches, this month the Deli is running a special sandwich—one that brings together the immigrant traditions of the Jewish American and Italian American communities. Fried mortadella, on grilled Bakehouse challah, along with sliced old pickles, mayonnaise, Raye’s marvelous artisan yellow mustard from Maine, a bit of Vermont cheddar, lettuce, and onion. A mixed culinary marriage with a wonderfully flavorful outcome!
Mortadella, if you don’t know it already, is the centuries-old salumi star of the regional cuisine of the food-loving city of Bologna. (Some records place its origins all the way back in the late 14th century.) If you read the name of the town in English, you will immediately recognize the American derivation, often spelled, “baloney.” The folks at Fra’ Mani are, as we are here, dedicated to going back to traditional recipes. They are making mortadella at their salumeria in the Bay Area. Carefully cut pork shoulder, leg, and belly are minced, mixed with fat and spices, and then slow-roasted before finally being finished with a small bit of fruitwood smoke. In fact, they just made the list of Good Food Awards finalists for the mortadella.
You can also buy mortadella at the Deli meat counter to take home. In its home region, it’s pretty much always present on any kind of salumi platter, along with various salami and the prosciutto of the particular region. While it’s sometimes served sliced, often it’s presented as an antipasto, cut into one-inch cubes. Be sure to serve the mortadella at room temperature—as is true of cheese, you will absolutely access its full flavor far more effectively if it’s at 60-something degrees than you will when it’s right out of the refrigerator. My friend Elizabeth Minchilli writes about making it into Mortadella Butter (she says, “If you make this and can’t stop eating it, don’t blame me.”) It’s also easy to cube and add to salads, pastas, or rice dishes. You can also fry mortadella, as the Deli is doing for this sandwich, and then add it to scrambled eggs! Easy to use, great to eat—a taste of terrific Italian tradition.