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The 7 Best Substitutes For Capicola

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If you enjoy eating cured meat in sandwiches or with wine, you will certainly love Italian Capicola. This dry-cured meat made from pork shoulder is delicate with a little bit of mild heat. It is also pleasantly fatty and salty. 

But Capicola is not as popular as some other types of cured meat. It is also comparatively expensive. So, in some cases, you may need an alternative for Capicola.

What are the best substitutes for Capicola? The best substitutes for Capicola include prosciutto, lonza,  pancetta, serrano, mortadella, salami, and turkey ham. Choose a substitute for Capicola considering the fattiness, spiciness, and uses of the cured meat or sausage. 

Continue reading to learn more about the best substitutes for Capicola as well as how to make Capicola at home as another substitute for this Italian delicacy!

What Is Capicola?

Capicola is one of the many names given to this Italian cured meat. Other names capicola is known by are capocollo, coppa, and gabagool

Capicola is Italian dry-cured meat. It is made from pork. The cut used for capicola is the pork shoulder or neck

The first stage of making capicola is seasoning it with various herbs and spices. Most commonly, the spice blend for capicola includes paprika. Red or white wine and garlic are other ingredients used in the preparation of capicola. 

Once the meat is seasoned and salted, it is stuffed into a natural casing. Then it is hung to air dry for around 6 months. It is common for the pork cut to be rubbed with hot paprika before it’s air-dried

Capicola is sliced very thinly and eaten either on its own or in sandwiches. You can also put it on pizza and use thinly sliced capicola for pasta dishes.

Capicola pairs beautifully with burrata cheese, mustard, cornichon, and various types of bread and crackers.

Can You Substitute Capicola with Other Meats?

Capicola may be more expensive than some other types of cured meat. The reason people love capicola is its delightful fattiness that is not overwhelming. Capicola is seasoned delicately allowing you to still enjoy the flavor of the meat. 

Capicola is a great choice for deli meat. However, it is more expensive than some other types of cured meat. Additionally, it may not always be available where you live

The good thing is, you can substitute this Italian cured meat with other types of deli meat. Depending on your preferences, you may even have multiple options. 

The 7 Best Substitutes For Capicola

We have picked 7 substitutes for capicola you can use whenever you are missing this delicate Italian meat. 

1. Prosciutto 

Prosciutto is one of the best substitutes for capicola. No wonder people often compare these two Italian meats! 

While prosciutto works great as a capicola substitute, it is good to know the differences between the two. 

First off, prosciutto is made from pork legs. Secondly, unlike capicola that uses many different spices, the meat for prosciutto is commonly only salted and dry-cured.

Lastly, the fat content of prosciutto is higher which makes its texture more buttery compared to the texture of capicola. 

2. Lonza 

Lonza is considered to be a sister for prosciutto and it is not surprising that it is a good substitute for capicola too. 

Similar to capicola, lonza is made from pork. It is pork loin that is cured and then air-dried. Like capicola, lonza isn’t air-dried for a very long period of time: just about 3-4 months

The flavor profile of lonza is slightly different from the flavor of capicola. This Italian cured meat is typically seasoned with black pepper and fennel.

Lonza is quite lean and should be sliced thinly like prosciutto. Lonza is good for charcuterie boards and pizza. 

3. Pancetta

If you are looking for a widely available substitute for capicola, you can go with pancetta. Pancetta is also a lot more affordable than capicola.

Pancetta is cured meat made from pork belly. The flavor of pancetta is very similar to the flavor of bacon minus the smokiness. Pancetta is salty and fatty and can be eaten both raw and cooked. 

This Italian Pancetta by Beretta is a good option. 

4. Serrano 

Serrano ham is a Spanish substitute for the Italian capicola. This popular dry-cured ham is very similar to prosciutto.

However, the main difference is that Spanish serrano ham is made from the hind legs of a special kind of pig—white pigs

Serrano ham has a rich buttery flavor. It is slightly spicy but has some sweetness to it too. Serrano ham is sliced very thinly. Each slice should have some fat as it adds flavor to the ham.

5. Mortadella

Mortadella may be a less sophisticated substitute for capicola, but it will certainly work for many recipes that call for it. 

Mortadella is a large Italian sausage traditionally made from cured pork and pork fat. It may contain other ingredients too. If you don’t like pork, you can buy mortadella made from other types of meat, including chicken and beef. 

The flavor of mortadella sausage is mild especially when it is thinly sliced. It is good for sandwiches and pasta dishes. 

6. Salami

If you like the idea of using some kind of sausage instead of capicola, then salami (or salame) is another great option to consider.

Salami is a cured sausage made from fermented and air-dried pork. Beef and veal can also be used to make salami. 

Salami contains a range of other ingredients too, including garlic, various herbs and spices, vinegar, and wine. Depending on the ingredients, salami can have spicy, sweet, smoky, and savory notes. 

This Italian Dry Salame by Columbus Salame Company is a great option if you prefer sausages made from pork. 

7. Turkey Ham

If you are craving a sandwich with capicola but don’t have any at home, use turkey ham instead. Turkey ham is more widely available and less expensive than capicola. 

Despite its deceiving name, turkey ham doesn’t contain any pork. It is made from processed turkey meat shaped into a ham

You can opt for turkey ham if you don’t like pork or if you are looking for an alternative with lower fat content.

Use turkey ham in sandwiches for the salty flavor capicola would provide. This capicola substitute may not be for gourmets but it certainly works for sandwiches. 

How To Choose A Substitute For Capicola

If you are looking for a substitute for capicola but don’t know what to buy, here are a few considerations to make to choose an option that will work perfectly for you. 

  • Fattiness. Capicola is made from quite a fatty cut of pork and many people like it for its delicate fattiness. You can substitute it with another type of cured meat that is also made from a fatty cut. 
  • Degree of spiciness. Capicola is spicy. If this is what you like most about this cured meat, choose a substitute that has a kick of heat. 
  • Uses. You can choose a capicola substitute taking into consideration how you will be using the cured meat. If you are putting together a charcuterie board, you may go with any deli meat of your choice. However, for pizza, pasta dishes, and various sandwiches, you may need to consider the texture and flavor of the substitute. 
  • Type of meat. If you want to substitute capicola with another type of cured meat just because you don’t like pork, you should choose from varieties that are made of beef, turkey, and other meats. 

Can You Make Capicola At Home?

If you are craving capicola but can’t find it in your local supermarkets, making it at home is an option too. Make it right and homemade capicola will make the best substitute for its store-bought counterpart. 

Making capicola at home is time-consuming. But the result is certainly worth it. Here’s the process of making capicola at home in a few steps: 

  1. Get the right pork cut for capicola. Make sure to weigh it to be able to add the spices and salt in the right amount following the particular recipe you will be using. 
  2. Prepare a seasoning blend. You can use hot or smoked paprika, cayenne and black peppers, red pepper flakes, or garlic powder. You need to mix everything with salt and a small amount of sugar for a balanced flavor. Decide on the spices depending on how hot you want your homemade capicola to be. 
  3. The next step is rubbing the meat with the seasoning blend and placing it in a vacuum-sealed bag. You can use a zip-top bag too. But make sure to remove all the excess air from it. 
  4. Refrigerate the meat for one to three weeks and massage it from time to time to make sure it gets properly seasoned. 
  5. When the meat is cured, remove it from the fridge. Dry it with paper towels and then sprinkle it with some white or red wine. 
  6. Wrap the meat in dry-aging sheets and weigh it again. Place the meat in the fridge. The meat should be either hanging or laying on a rack so that there is airflow around it. 
  7. Slice and enjoy your homemade capicola when it loses 1/3 of its weight. 

Here’s an excellent video on how this specific meat is prepared and the region of Italy it comes from!

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