Valchiavenna (Sondrio), Lombardy
The slinzegha, strange word to us but common Chiavenna Valley, is nothing but a little dried beef, packed with clippings from the advanced machining hamstrings with whom he made the classic bresaola. Thus, it can be bovine, but especially horses. The tasty, tasty slinzegha horse is worked with the toughest parts of the animal muscle: thigh, shoulder, neck and chin, which are nothing but facial muscles. After being defatted and trimmed, the meat is dry salted. Maturing in the containers – which were once wood (oak and beech) and which are now stainless steel for improved hygiene – which is layered with tanning, this is more homogeneous because the tanning, the pieces are salted regularly turned.
There are no precise rules of “manufacture” and this makes it a handmade product of particular value in diversity for the selection of spices (bay leaf, juniper, garlic and pepper) or for washing the meat with the local wine. The meat is washed and dried after a few days to a month. Then loses weight, but its protein content than beef and pork, is not affected. The flesh as “crumpled” has acquired taste. When seasoning is very firm and very dark red. It should be consumed in its natural and chewed slowly to leave the palate the pleasure of discovering the richness taste, accompanied by a nice glass of local wine robust.
Horsemeat Slinzega or Slinziga, like beef Slinzega, is the finest cut of the Bresaola family.
Originally from the Val Chiavenna in the province of Sondrio it seems that it was already being eaten in the 1400s. It is a small bresaola obtained from the haunch of the horse, which is the finest cut, then aromatised with salt, pepper, garlic, bay leaf and juniper.
Very similar to bresaola, with a more elongated shape, horsemeat Slinzega has a form that depends on the cut of meat. The meat is more leathery than bresaola meat, the colour is very dark red.
It weighs between 600 and 700 grams and is sometimes smoked.
Horsemeat Slinzega is a typical speciality of Val Chiavenna, antique Roman “Clavenna”, arising downstream of the Spluga and Maloja passes. In the XVI century it was the centre of a country area whose territory followed the course of the Mera river: from the inlet to the Val Bregaglia to the banks of Lake Como.
The historical centre is full of noble palaces from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, like Palazzo Salis, as well as artistic treasures such as those that can be visited at the Museum of the Treasury in the collegiate church of S. Lorenzo. Steep mountainsides surround it, and where the slopes allow it, there are still grapevines, as testimony to widespread cultivation also in this part of the province of Sondrio.
At the moment, the wine producing culture is gathered around the crotti, natural cavities in the rocks formed after a huge landslide. The sorei, a kind of airy breeze, almost a breath from the mountain, cool in summer and warm in winter, emanates from deep inside these caves, and gave the inhabitants the idea of using the crotti to store and dry out salami, bresaola and wine.
The production process of Slinzega is very similar to that of bresaola, although aging takes longer. After dissecting the horse shoulder and trimming the meat (in other words, eliminating the fatty parts), it is covered in salt for a dry salting process.
It is salted for 8-10 days and perhaps turned during this time to better absorb the salt. The local producers add bay leaf, juniper, garlic, pepper to the salt mixture and the meat is also sometimes bathed in wine. It has to be aged for no less than 2 months.
The cuts of horsemeat are processed for dry-salting in vats that were originally made from beech or oak, but now in stainless steel vats.
Slinzega has a decisive but pleasant flavour, very similar to dried meat.
How to consume it
To be eaten naturally, horsemeat Slinzega is traditionally eaten with the hands, breaking off a piece and chewing it for a long time, perhaps accompanied by a robust local wine.