Thursday, December 29, 2011

Cooked Coppa: Fauxppa?

Traditional Coppa is an Italian dry-cured and air-dried ham-style whole muscle that is thinly sliced and enjoyed by itself or perhaps on a sandwich. The muscle is traditionally located in the neck, starting in the shoulder and running to the head. The term coppa actually means nape in Italian. When I ordered a whole skin-on shoulder I was excited to find the coppa muscle almost entirely in-tact. I hopped on the chance to make a version I had recently learned about, but unlike the traditional method, this one uses a brine instead of a dry-cure and is slowly poached instead of air-dried. Otherwise, all of the techniques are the same.

The shoulder I received was larger than a typical commodity shoulder that arrives two in a vac-packed bag. This was again from Slagel Family Farms and included the front end of the rib cage and the neck bone. The piece I would trim out for this coppa would include the butt end of the loin.

The left top image shows the whole piece I received. On that picture, the piece I want to remove is the top right between the bone and skin, as it tapers from back to front. In the top right image I removed the bones and the desired muscle is exposed. The bottom left image shows the muscle once removed and the shoulder that remains. The last picture shows the removed muscle to use as a single cleaned piece.

I then made and chilled a brine of cure no. 2, salt, sugar, bay, fennel seeds and black peppercorns. I brined the coppa for a week. Once it came out of the brine I dried it off and rubbed it with a blend of fennel, black peppercorns and paprika. It was then stuffed into a medium beef bung. You can see the bung above partially filled with water so you can visualize its size. They come salt packed so the usual soak and rinse method is employed here. As the picture shows, you can easily fit your arm into the bung.

Once it was rubbed and stuffed I squeezed out as much excess air as possible and tied it off at the top. I then poached it in simmering salted water for an hour. I left the boning knife next to the cutting board for a size reference above.

After it cam out of the poaching liquid I used a sausage pricker to get the remaining air-pockets. I then hung it dry out the wet skin. It stayed in a well-ventilated cool place for about 72 hours.

After the brief drying period it was moved into the refrigerator to hang until use. Once you are ready to slice, simply remove/peel the dried bung from the coppa. After that you slice it fairly thin and enjoy as you wish. Slice it as close to shaving while maintaining whole slices. I laid my slices out on a platter (shown at top) and offered small rolls and a spicy mustard.


  1. Wow! I adore Coppa, especially on sandwich! Pretty interesting method how to cook it! Always wanna learn to do it! Thanks for it!!!

  2. Hi do you have the brine recipe. How much salt and sugar per liter of water.
    Regards Walter

  3. Walter, thanks for stopping by. The recipe for the brine was: 1 gallon water, 1 pound of kosher salt, 6 wz. sugar, 1 Tablespoon chili flakes, 4 T fennel seeds toasted, 1 T black peppercorns toasted, 3 bay leaves, and 1 teaspoon cure no. 2.

  4. Hi I enjoy your site very much. I make allot of dry cured coppa but want to try the cooked version. Busy pouching it now. I am going to pouch it til it is 70 degrees Celsius inside, is that correct. Hope so. Will let you know. Had bit of a problem to get the beef bung. In my country it does not get used allot so you cannot buy it anywhere. So I went to a slaughter house to get a few. Let me tell you they not nice to clean but now I know how LOL.

  5. After drying, how long does it have to hang in the refrigerator?
    How can you tell when it is ready for consumption?


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