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Making Authentic Mortadella at Home

Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

(Last Updated On: January 15, 2024)

Mortadella can be made at home with certain equipment; it’s quite an involved type of cooked sausage, and we’ve found it took longer than sausages or salamis in general. I definitely thought it was worth it, though!

The essence of the mortadella is a delicate spiced aroma, quality meat that is emulsified without over mixing and low temperature baked, sous vide or poached to avoid rendering the showcase fat embedded throughout.

It’s a learning curve; I want to review our attempt in detail. After making salamis and whole muscle meats, we have only created a handful of emulsified meats, such as Hickory Hot Smoked Hot Dogs.

Many commercial emulsified meats are about hiding ‘filler’ like breadcrumbs or using the emulsification to hold in more water instead of meat. Obviously, commercially to make more money.

Mortadella, especially authentic classic Italian – is more about quality.

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Mortadella samwich with cheese, cherry tomatoes, pickled jalapeno, mayonnaise

We used a very authoritative recipe. However, there were adjustable additions and some misadventures we had to deal with.

To be as helpful as possible, I will highlight how we varied the recipe and what additions or useful information will make it easier for you to try this at home.

Mortadella de Bologna Ingredients

Note this Mortadella Recipe is based on Per 1000g (1 kg) of meat:

salt18 g3 tsp
cure #12.5 g½ tsp
white pepper2.0 g1 tsp
whole peppercorns4.0 g1 tsp
coriander0.5 g¼ tsp
garlic powder1.5 g½ tsp
anise1.0 g½ tsp
mace1.0 g½ tsp
caraway, ground0.5 g¼ tsp
pistachios, whole35 g¼ cup
red wine60 ml¼ cup
cold water60 ml2 oz fl
Recipe of Meat and Sausages – Mortadella di Bologna

The recipe from Meat and Sausages had some steps that we added from doing research online, reading, and watching videos.

There are a lot of sub-par recipes for classical authentic Mortadella. This above recipe seems to be on point in spice ratios.

Some additional un-natural commercial additives, this recipe represents a purist view.

Mortadella Making Steps

These were the basic steps from the recipe book; I will add in the additional steps with some tips along the way. Below the text I’ll put a video highlighting the process as well.

1. “Dice back fat into ¼” cubes for show meat.”

Once the meat was thawed, we cubed some quality back fat. Then many recipes mentioned boiling the fat for 5-10 minutes.

2. Grind all meats through ¼” (6 mm) plate, partially refreeze ground meat and grind again through ⅛” (3 mm) plate.

We performed this task with a very powerful 1HP meat grinder. Some other Italian video tutorials we watched used a 3 mm grinding plate; you need a decent powered grinder for this.

3. Mix ground meats with all ingredients (except whole peppercorns and pistachios).

Using a Bowl Mixer, we added all the ingredients (apart from pistachios, we accidentally added peppercorns). The bowl mixer is designed to uniformly mix salami, sausage or emulsified meat recipes to create a good bind.

The bind is one of the most important aspects of any sausage-type recipe. It’s about extracting the ‘glue, aka myosin, from the meat so the sausage sticks together.

You add more water or red wine to extract more myosin for mortadella.

4. Emulsify ground meats in a food processor, adding cold water and red wine. (If there is no food processor available, partially refreeze ground meat and grind again through a 3 mm plate).

We sharpened the blades on the food processor, another big tip. You will’ whip’ the meat if you don’t have sharp blades. Creating more air inside the mortadella.

You will want to add the liquids slowly, 3 to 6 times, to bind the water and maximize the extraction of myosin. (If you have ever made mayonnaise, the oil and adding process is very similar; it’s an emulsion also).

5. Mix emulsified meat paste with cubed fat, pistachios, and whole peppercorns.

Placing the meat mixture in a tray, we dropped in the pistachios and showcased fat. It just needs to be spread evenly throughout the mixture.

6. Stuff into 100 mm (4″) fibrous casings.

Our largest casing was 80mm fibrous, so we used them. Many Italian recipes we have seen, show 180mm casings, which is still small compared to many of the commercial Mortadella I’ve seen and eaten in Italy!

Pricking the air bubbles, like is standard in most sausage-cased recipes, is what we had seen done of Moradella, we decided to price it.

7. Cook in water at 176 °F (80° C) to an internal meat temperature of 154°F (68° C), about 2 hours.

I started by hanging the mortadella in a Masterbuild Hot Smoker, basically no smoke added. Just setting the thermostat to 176­°F/80°C.

I check an hour later, and noticed the pistachios on the outside seems roasted/dark burnt.

Using another thermometer with 4x cable probes (here is a review of this probe, it’s very good and wifi capable), I checked the Internal Cooking temperature, it’s showing 20% inaccuracy. 90-95°C . Too hot, and the chance of rendering the showcase fat would ruin the end product.

Since fat starts to melt around 135°F/57°C, I decided to finish the mortadella in the oven @ 80°C.

The 2 hours in the basic recipe seem very off. It ended up taking 5 hours, the temperatures were never below the stated too.

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Impatient rough cutting, 4 hours after cooling. Better to wait at least 8 hours or overnight, let flavors permeate

Options for Cooking we came across:

  • Simmer/Poach as per above
  • Sous Vide at a 145°F/63°C for 3-4 hours
  • Bake at 80°C until 68°C

8. Cool and refrigerate

We hung the mortadella in the chiller; it was about 10 pounds, 5 kg batch.

After 4 hours, we did some slices. It was nice but subtle.

Overnight, we sliced the next day. It was definitely was able to meld together and tasted better after at least 8 hours in the fridge/chiller.

Equipment Needed

For this type of project, I highlight recommended decent mincer/grinder. Cutting plates at a minimum should be 5-6 mm (which is what we used).

3mm is ideal for a grinding plate

Bowl cutter isn’t essential. Neither is a food processor, if you are going to use.

The downside to using a food processor is that it creates heat. We ended up doing about 6-8 batches in the processor. Then froze down the meat and did it all again.

So it was 2x grinds, chill again, 1x bowl cutter to mix through spices/salt, 1x food processor, chill again, 1x food processor, mix through nuts and fat, stuffing, cooking, chill down again.

Ideal Emulsified Texture

“Soft and Sticky”

Avoid Bouncy or Pillowy textures, this is an indication that you have put to much air inside the mixture.

Resources:

I didn’t like the idea of adding potato starch to hold in showcase fat, sous vide is a more complex approach as well. It’s one of the better recipes out there though.

Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

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