The Pitina Friulana is a rather unique and rare salume characterised by the lack of casing and being the shape of a large meatball. Its history lies in the mountains of Northern Italy where preserving meat was naturally important and any lame or wounded livestock would be slaughtered and not wasted. Due to the environment, farming with sheep or pigs was not readily viable, and since there was no livestock to provide any natural casings, the farmers made due with what they had - Polenta and some smoke.
Previously an 'unknown' outside the region there are only a handful of traditional producers providing for the commercial market and well worth trying if you see any for sale.
The salume would traditionally contain meat from goat, roe deer, red deer, or chamois.
Given that goat or venison is not readily available here in the UK without specialist or advanced ordering this is an easy recipe that uses pork and lamb instead, and a little extra fat before being shaped into large meat balls the size of tennis balls, and rolled in polenta. You could use beef instead of the lamb, or even swap it out entirely for additional pork. If you have the ability to do some cold smoking it benefits from being lightly smoked for 60mins.
It can be eaten as a salami but is also used in pasta dishes, broths and risotto.
When using wine in the recipe use a red wine you like to drink and not just the cheapest red you can find. It's only half a glass so use something you are happy to use the rest off (or use in our other recipes!)
This will make 4-5 x decent size Pitina. The night before you make this chop the garlic so you have 2-3 large pieces and put in the wine to infuse overnight.
900g of lean meat (I like a mix of 600g of pork loin and 300g of lamb)
100g of pork fat
30g of sea salt (3% of the weight of meat) (If using #2 curing salt then drop to 25g salt and 2.5g #2)
1 tsp of black peppercorns
1 tsp of ground pepper
1 tsp of fennel seeds (OPTIONAL)
1/2 glass of red wine
1 clove of garlic
1. Remember to infuse your red wine with the garlic the night before!
2. Coarsely cut up your meat and fat into 6mm-8mm sizes, or pop through a mincer with a 6mm plate.
3. Pop in a bowl and start mixing through with your hands adding the salt as you go. It is important to get the salt combined throughout as it helps the meat stick together as well as being part of the magic that makes it inhospitable for bad bacteria.
4. Remove the garlic and add the wine, fennel, ground pepper, and peppercorns and mix through thoroughly. The acidity of the wine and salt start to make the meat inhospitable for bad bacteria to flourish.
5. Now make 4-5 large meatballs, nicely compacted, and roll them in the polenta so they are fully covered. The polenta will stick to the wet outside of the pitina so make sure it is covered all over.
The next bit is optional, but does make a difference.
6. Cold smoke for 60mins. If you don't have a smoker this still can be achieved with a cardboard box, your chosen wood chippings, a tealight, and a metal container.
7. If you skipped the smoking or just done the smoking, now pop in warmest part of the fridge. It may be difficult to put a whole plate in the fridge takeing up real estate for 3 weeks - so you can use a wooden blank or small chopping board no problem.
8. Now turn the pitinas upside down everyday for 3 weeks.
After 3 weeks your pinitas will be ready for eating. These can then be stored in the fridge or container or packed.