Saturday, January 16, 2016

Isolating the Coppa on Berkshire Hogs

One question I've been asked is where exactly the coppa comes from on the hog.  The coppa is a mix of muscles in the pig's neck and supports the head.  As you move from the head to the middle of the hog, these muscles taper off and leave you with the solid loin muscle, which can be cut into pork chops, a loin roast, or turned into Canadian bacon.

In comparison to the lighter, leaner meat of the loin, the coppa is a deep burgundy color and striated with dense, white fat.  As the hog roots and snoots for food, the coppa swings the great weight of the head, producing plenty of intramuscular fat.  This constant exercise gives the coppa a great flavor and dense texture.
The Trimmed Down Coppa
Now, I'm using the phrase "coppa," relating to the process of salting and drying the coppa in the Italian tradition.  Besides dry curing, you could rub down the coppa with chiles, salt, and sugar and poach it for a capicola ham.  Or brine and smoke the coppa for delicious cottage bacon.  Lastly, the coppa can be simply braised for my wife's favorite application, a pork neck pot roast.

The Shoulder Blade inside the Boston Butt
Once you remove the coppa, the rest of the shoulder can be braised for pulled pork, ground into sausage, or cubed for stew.