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Hot Capicola
(Dry Cure Method)
Regardless of how you refer to it, coppa, capocollo or capicola, this product is incredibly flavorful and  very easy to make at home. Though capicola may appear ham like, this spicy, sweet meat is produced almost exclusively from the shoulder or neck area of the pig while a ham is almost always produced from the thigh and buttocks of the pig.
Capicola is characterized as either sweet or hot––sweet is cured with black pepper––hot is cured with red pepper. Either way, the end result is a ruby-red piece of cured meat embedded in clean, white fat with a depth of flavor comparable to the best prosciutto. But then I am slightly prejudice because I’m of the belief that homemade is always better than store bought.

Extracting The Coppa

Face the bone-in side of the pork butt toward you (fat cap down.

Follow the seam that divides the coppa from the blade side of the butt.

Continue cutting along the seam down and through the fat cap.

Shape the coppa to fit a beef bung or 3 7/8” (100mm) collagen casing.

While it’s not a true ham, because it’s made from the shoulder or neck of a pig rather than the leg, capicola is ham like. It’s distinctive flavor is defined by the rub––red pepper is used to make a hot capicola––black pepper is used to make a mild capicola. The following dry-cure formula was given to me by a fellow beef boner while I was employed at Conti Packing in Rochester, New York.

Hot Capicola Recipe
5 lbs pork butt  (2.27 kg)
1/3 cup pickling salt (102 g)
1 tsp pink curing salt #1 (5.7 g)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (1.1 g)
1 tsp cloves, ground (2.7 g)
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (3.3 g)
2 1/2 tsp garlic powder (7.75 g)
1 tbsp paprika (7.2 g)
3 tbsp black pepper, coarse (23.4 g)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (116 g)

Capicola Rub:
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (3.3 g)
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar, packed (22 g)
1 1/2 tbsp paprika (10.8 g)
#10 elastic netting

25 lbs pork butt (11.4 kg)
1 2/3 cups pickling salt (512 g)
5 tsp pink curing salt #1 (28 .5 g)
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (5.5 g)
2 1/2 tsp cloves, ground (13.5g)
2 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper (16.5 g)
1/4 cup garlic powder (38.8 g)
1/3 cup paprika (36 g)
1 cup black pepper, coarse (117 g)
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar (580 g)

Capicola Rub:
2 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper (16.5 g)
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed (110 g)
1/2 cup paprika (54 g)
#10 elastic netting
(1) Trim excess fat from the outside of the butt, refrigerate at 36-40°F (2-4°C). (2) Mix salt, curing salt and dextrose together to make dry cure, rub surface of the butt with half of the dry-cure mixture; store remainder in glass jar. (3) Place butt in a non-reactive container or a large Ziploc bag, refrigerate 9 days. (4) After 9 days, rub reserved cure into the surface of the meat; cover, refrigerate for an additional 9 days to complete the curing process. (5) Remove cured butt from the refrigerator and rinse away any crystallized salt or cure that may have formed on the surface of the butt; air dry 2-3 hours. (6) Mix rub ingredients together well; rub into all surfaces of the meat. (7) Stuff seasoned coppa into beef bung or 100mm collagen casing, tie off casing, then slip encased meat into #10 elastic netting, tie both ends tight, leaving enough string on one end to make a hanging loop. (8) Hang capicola 18 days at 55-59°F (13-15°C) @ 70-80% relative humidity.

More About Curing Capicola

Capicola is a dry-cure product made from a small portion of the pork butt, more specifically a  bundle of muscles referred to as the “coppa”.  It’s been my experience that a xx lb. pork butt will  yield a  xx lb. coppa which is exactly what is required for the capicola recipe featured on page 324. Once the coppa has been separated from the butt, carefully remove the partial shoulder blade by cutting around it with the tip of a flexible boning knife. Then chill the coppa in the refrigerator while you prepare the dry cure. Refrigerate or freeze the left over trimmings to make sausage later on.

Start by mixing the dry cure ingredients together in a medium-size non-resistant bowl. Divide the mixture in half and place  one portion into in a covered glass jar, set aside. Rub the surface of the meat on all sides with the dry cure mix. It’s important that you cover every square inch of the product .

To prevent the meat from drying out, place it in a ziploc bag or a covered non-reactive container.  Store at 36-38°F (2-3°C) for 8-9 days during which time the salt will begin to penetrate the meat and force out the fluids (turn the meat over every other day). When the allotted cure time is up,  rub the surface of the meat with the reserved cure mixture and refrigerate an additional 8-9 days.

Once the 18 day curing process is over,  remove the cured meat from the refrigerator and rinse away any crystallized salt that may have accumulated on the surface of the product.  Place the meat on racks and air dry at room temperature for 2-3 hours or until the product is dry to the touch.

To impart additional flavor to the finished product a spice rub is essential.  If you desire a hot capicola, mix together  powdered dextrose, corn syrup solids, garlic powder, paprika and cayenne pepper.  For a milder product,  mix together (see specific ingredient amounts on the following page. Pour the spice flaor mixture into an ample-size non-reactive pan. Lay the cured meat atop the mixture and carefully roll (dredge) the product in the rub until the surface is completely covered with the spice flavoring.

About 30 minutes prior to stuffing, prepare a beef bung by soaking it 30 minutes in luke warm water. Should you find the  smell of the bung offensive, adding two or three drops of lemon juice to the water will go a long way toward neutralizing the odor.  Stuffing the seasoned meat into a  prepared bung is much easier if you have someone to help. He or she can hold the end of the casing open while you push the meat all the way to the end of the bung. Use a length of butcher twine to tie it off just above the point where the meat ends inside the casing.  For added support, slip a piece of #10 elastic netting over the bung, tie both ends tight with butcher twine leaving enough string on one end to make a hanging loop. If you don’t have a beef bung on hand you can use butcher twine to tie the meat at 1 1/2” to 2” intervals. Make sure you make a hanging loop at one end.

Hang capicola 18 days at 55-59°F (13-15°C) and a relative humidity  of 70-80%.  You can expect a 40 % weight loss from start to finish.