HISTORY AND ORIGINS
The first certain documents on “Mortadella di Prato” as an original product of the city of Prato date back to 1733, on the occasion of the beatification of Sister Caterina de ‘Ricci, when the nuns of the Dominican monasteries of Prato set up a lunch for guests where she was local specialty. We find the Mortadella di Prato mentioned with this name in 1854 in the Guasti-Pierallini correspondence, in articles in the newspaper “Lo Zenzero” of 1862 and, throughout the course of the 19th century, in volumes of economics (L’Italia economic del 1868 , Italy at work of 1869), in reports drawn up in Italian, English and French for the International Exhibitions in London and Paris (in particular from 1867) and in a note by a French police commissioner, who informs us on the export of the product to France (1867) confirming its acquired reputation. In the report of a commissioner for the London International Exhibition, in particular, it is said that “Le Mortadelle di Prato and Bologna outside (ie abroad) give the name to the whole genus “. Also during the twentieth century there are numerous documented references to “Mortadella di Prato”, which cross the scope of local recipe books to invest in publishing, the national daily press and the world of national and international gastronomy, thus highlighting an important growth of its reputation
Prato was characterized, since ancient times, by an early and rational use of the waters of the river that crosses it, the Bisenzio, which has a torrential water regime, with large variations in flow rate as the seasons change. The need to reclaim the vast and fertile alluvial plain, crossed not only by the Bisenzio, but also by various streams (Ombrone, Calice, Bardena, Brana, to name the main ones), and the intuition of being able to exploit the lively waters for energy purposes , for the operation of both mills and textile machines, led to the construction of the c. d. “Gore”, a vast network of artificial canals that run through the Prato plain and ultimately flow into the Ombrone stream, which in turn touches the neighboring municipalities of Agliana, Quarrata and Montale, falling within the province of Pistoia.
he gores and streams, in addition to the supply of energy, in particular allowed the development since the medieval era of the “Arte dei Beccai” (the ancient name of the butchers), an activity that, for reasons of hygiene, required, like the profession of dyer, plenty of running water.
It was then that, thanks to talented butchers, the processing and use of pork was established; which not only enjoyed a particular reputation, but was already an important voice for the economy at the time. Therefore, thanks to an unrepeatable combination of natural, cultural and human factors, the expertise of the butchers of those years has been transmitted through the centuries, until it leads to a recipe of a clear medieval mold, both for the presence of abundant spiciness, (in order to ensure longer shelf life of the product); both for the use of Alchermes, (purple liqueur dyed by cochineal, the famous “dyer’s grain”), which recalls the secular proximity, mediated by the common use of the network of canals, between the ancient crafts of dyer and butcher .
THE MORTADELLA DI PRATO IN OUR DAY
In the 1950s, some butchers recovered the ancient recipe of this salami made with pork left over after the selection to obtain the finocchiona, to recover second-rate meats. The production area has remained unchanged from its origins.
The modern recipe was reworked in the 90s, lightening spices and aromas to obtain a more delicate product, while maintaining the particular aroma and taste as per tradition and the fundamental presence of alchermes, a liqueur linked to the Prato tradition; improving the selection of meats which, unlike its origins, are now of first choice.
The peculiarity of the “Mortadella di Prato” has meant that the product was present in many cookbooks and local, national and international gastronomic guides, since the first edition of the “Italian gastronomic guide” of the Italian Touring Club (1931).
Its fame is also linked to the predilection shown by great chefs and personalities of international culture and gastronomy, such as the great Spanish writer Manuel Vasquez Montalban. It was also valued as a genuine expression of the gastronomic tradition of Prato by associations such as the Italian Academy of Cuisine (1987) and Slow Food, which in 2000 established a Product Presidium
Since the 1700s, “Mortadella di Prato” has been tasted locally with figs or in traditional cuisine as an ingredient in many typical dishes, including “Sedani alla pratese”. The product is usually offered at trade fairs, including international ones, as well as in the local “Divini fragrances. Between drinking and knowledge, culture and flavors of the province of Prato ”.
MORTADELLA DI PRATO I.G.P.
Delicious excellence 100% Made In Tuscany
The typical flavor of “Mortadella di Prato” is given by the contrast between the warm and pungent note of spices, garlic and sea salt, and the sweet and delicate note of alchermes. The perfume is penetrating, spicy with a note of alchermes from the first impact. Its specificity is also strengthened by the choice of the cuts of meat used, by the traditional and consolidated processing and by the particularity of the ingredients, characteristics that make it unique in the Italian gastronomic panorama. Another peculiar aspect is given by the fact that cooking is preceded by stewing, which must take place in dedicated rooms, such as to ensure conditions of progressively decreasing temperature and increasing humidity, in order to guarantee a prolonged and gradual drying of the product.
The choice of lean meats, obtained from the shoulders and from the trimmings of the hams, is made with particular care in removing nerve and fat; the fat nut comes from from cheeks and gibs. The selected meats are left to cool and then minced, spiced and stuffed into sausages. The mortadellas are then placed in stewing rooms for about 3 days, to be then steamed for about 14 hours until it reaches a correct cooking at the “heart”.
The mortadella can be tasted hot (30-40 °) or cold, as a normal sausage, with fresh Tuscan bread or with the classic “schiacciata”. Also as an appetizer accompanied by vegetables in oil or figs, in the kitchen it can be used in various preparations for doughs or fillings.
STORAGE AND CONSUMPTION
Mortadella can be tasted hot (30-40 °) or cold, like a normal sausage.
Storage temperature : 8°C / 10°C
Size: about 1.5 – 3 – 6 kg
On 20 August 2014 in the Official Gazette of the Italian Republic no. 192, the proposal for the Mortadella di Prato specification was published. After 30 days that will expire on September 20, the file will be sent for examination by the community offices for European recognition.
Consult the production specification approved by the PRESIDIO DELLA MORTADELLA DI PRATO