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Cold-cut, also named delicatessen, or "Charcuterie" in French is a food category devoted to prepared meat products like ham, sausages, terrines or pates. Most of the time, cold-cut products are issued from pork meat. Originally, this kind of preparation was a way to preserve meat giving a longer shelf-life to the products. Today, delicatessen is much appreciated for its taste and flavor. How is it prepared ?

How are cold cuts made?

Actually, the meat is either dry-aired, sometimes smoked and salt-cured as salt serves different purposes in the meat conservation : dehydration, fermentation and "cooking" the meat. The "charcutier" uses different salt mixtures known as "Prague powder" or "insta-cure" mainly composed of sodium chloride and sodium nitrite. Then, the charcutier' skill is his ability to balance the taste adding his own spices and herbs to soften and sweeten the salty taste and to add more flavoring agents. The most common aromatic agents used are cinnamon, nutmeg, mace or cardamom. Another way to preserve the meat is smoking and dry-airing. It is a natural way to extract the water from the meat and add some flavor. In Spain or in Italy, some areas are very famous for their perfect combination of dry and fresh air and windy environment like the valley della Valtelina famous for its amazing AOP bresaola.