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Mortadella at a Glance


Bologna, Northern Italy

Type of Charcuterie

Fresh Sausage, Smoked

Main Ingredient


Typical Ingredients

Pork, beef or veal, fat cubes, garlic, salt, pepper, coriander, mace, pistachios or olives (optional)

Other Names

Mortadella di Bologna, Mortadella di Amatrice, Mortadella di Prato, Italian Mortadella, Catalan Mortadella, la grassa, baloney, boloney, bologna, bologna sausage, pariser, parizer, parizsi, mortadela, martadella, kaalbas, saniora

Mortadella Description

A cured sausage that comes from Bologna, Northern Italy, Mortadella is the sausage which modern day bologna is made after. The earliest account of Mortadella dates back to the 14th Century and it remains to be one of the most popular sausages with about 160,000 tons consumed each year in Italy.

Locally this sausage is also known as "la grassa" meaning fat, due to the addition of lardons or fat cubes. The origin of the name Mortadella is said to have come from the Latin terms for myrtle (miratitum) which was an ingredient used and mortar (mortario) which was used for binding the ingredients together.

The production of this sausage has come a long way from using a mortar and pestle, but it is still much enjoyed. It is traditionally made with pork however there are now some varieties which are made with beef, veal or a mixture of these meats.

The meat is cured and seasoned with garlic, salt, pepper, coriander and mace then emulsified. Fat cubes are then mixed into this along with pistachios or olives if desired. The sausage is then smoked or cooked in water, depending on the variety.

The result is a firm sausage that is light with a smooth and creamy texture. It is pink in color with white spots as a result of the lardons. This may also have peppercorns, olive or pistachio pieces in it as well. The large sausage has a distinct aroma and a slightly spicy flavor that is equalized by the fat cubes which melt in the mouth.

Mortadella is usually sliced very thinly to give a good mouth feel and to allow the flavors to be absorbed better. Another way to slice this sausage is in cubes, similar to ham.

Given the versatile nature of Mortadella, it pairs well with many different foods among these are cheese, olives, walnuts, eggs, wine and bread. Likewise, it can be used in various ways when cooking. This can be served as an antipasto, added to soups, stews and other dishes or be made into a sandwich.

Photo Credit: fulminating
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