The Delicatessen Classic
The large Italian sausage called mortadella is originally from Bologna and is famously one sausage that Italians leave in the expert hands of professional butchers.
TASTING NOTES FROM THE CURATOR
This pinkish sausage has an intense spiced smell. It is made using the less precious cuts of pork legs, combined with spices and select flavors. In Bologna, pistachio is traditionally included, though some variants do not contain nuts at all. To all this, small cubes of pork fat are added, giving the sausage its telltale white polka dot appearance when sliced.
PREPARATION OR PAIRINGS
This is a deli catchall classic. From a simple sandwich of this sliced sausage, tomato, and lettuce, to grilled cheeses, it’s easy to come up with all sorts of ways to use mortadella. It makes an interesting addition to pizzas, thinly shaved right after baking or else cut into batons to be crisped up in the oven. It can also be used for filling stuffed pastas or fried up in place of other cured meats like pancetta or bacon.
A MEAT FULL OF MISCONCEPTIONS
This is the closest that Italians come to the American “mystery meat”. It has been made in Italy, according to trade records, since the late 1300s, but because most families do not make their own mortadella, for many decades of the 1900s, rumors persisted that mortadella was made of horse or donkey meat. The curious, large sausage has many variants. The IGP-protected Mortadella Bologna is the best-known, made to exacting specifications only in the Emilia-Romagna, but three other famous styles are the garlicky Mortadella di Prato of Tuscany, the lightly smoked Mortadella of Amatrice — and the actual horsemeat-sourced Mortadella di cavallo from the commune of Albano Laziale in central Italy.
This type of sausage may be stored, unopened, for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. After opening, it should be consumed within a week.