Salivating for Artisan Sopressata
Brothers Steven and Eric are the fourth generation of Bavas to hand-craft a spicy Italian dry salami specialty known as sopressata Calabrese.
Their grandfather brought the recipe to America after immigrating to Chicago from the small mountain town of Simbario in Calabria, Italy. Every winter following Christmas, the whole family gathered to whip up a batch, which would then be served at every special family occasion throughout the year.
Now, the brothers are making that same cured sausage in small batches in Los Angeles and selling it via a small select group of retail stores.
Recently, I had a chance to try Bavas Brothers Sopressata Calabrese.
Deep ruby red, the squat sausage is firm and chewy. It’s full of sweet porkiness, along with a good jolt of peppery spice that builds the more you chew.
The color and the heat comes from Calabrese paprika that’s mixed with the pork, sea salt, and fennel seeds.
It makes for a great nosh alongside a red wine with some body. You can use it like chorizo, too, diced up to scramble with eggs or to simmer with clams or mussels.
A 7-ounce sopressata is about $25.
The brothers also recently created ‘Nduja Calabrese, which is addicting from the first taste. It’s sausage spread in a jar. I mean, doesn’t that sound good already? The take the sopressata and blend it with sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, olive oil, fennel seeds, cayenne and garlic.
The result is this thick spread that’s got a meaty taste along with spiciness, and concentrated sweetness and tang from the tomatoes.
Spread it on crostini, grilled cheese sandwiches or just about anything. I even stirred some into a saute of shrimp and tomatoes that I spooned over soft polenta. I hear it makes a knockout addition in a Bloody Mary, too.
A 6-ounce jar is $21.
The Bava Brothers hope to sell the products online after they expand production. For now, find them in select stores such as The Pasta Shop in Berkeley, Say Cheese in San Francisco, The Epicurean Connection in Sonoma, and Joan’s on Third in Los Angeles.