Demystifying Cappy Ham: A Complete Guide to This Classic Italian-Style Meat

Cappy ham is a type of cured and seasoned ham that originated in Italy If you’ve spotted it at the deli counter and wondered what exactly it is, this guide will tell you everything you need to know about genuine Cappy ham

What is Cappy Ham?

Cappy ham is a specialty style of cured, cooked ham that is hand-coated with spices and paprika for added flavor. It gets its name from the town of Cappuccio in northern Italy where this ham was first created.

True Italian Cappy ham starts with a whole rear leg of pork. The meat is cured, smoked, and then seasoned with a distinctive mix of black pepper, garlic, and paprika. This gives the ham its trademark peppery flavor and rich red color.

When sliced, Cappy ham has thin streaks of fat marbling through the dark pink meat. It has a robust mildly spicy character and refined texture from the specialized curing process. Good Cappy ham is never pumped or injected to speed curing like some modern hams.

The Origins of Cappy Ham

Cappy ham traces its roots to the town of Cappuccio, located in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. Pork curing has long been a specialty in this part of Italy.

The local pork legs were originally dry cured only with salt before being stuffed into casings and aged. Over time, pepper, garlic, and sweet paprika were added to the curing mix to give the ham its distinctive spicy flavor profile.

The finished hams became knows as “prosciutto alla cappuccina” referencing their origins in Cappuccio. Eventually this mouthful was shortened to just “Cappy ham” for easier labeling when production expanded.

Unique Traits of Cappy Ham

True Cappy ham has a few key traits that set it apart from other cured hams:

  • Long, slow natural curing and aging

  • Hand-rubbed with spices, never injected

  • Deep ruby-red interior with thin fat marbling

  • Robust flavor with notes of garlic, pepper and paprika

  • Dense, finely grained texture yet easy to slice

  • Crafted from fresh pork legs, not trimmings or cuts

  • No artificial curing agents, additives or preservatives

By law, only ham made in the traditional manner in specific regions of Italy can be called authentic Cappy ham.

Buying and Storing Cappy Ham

Since the name “Cappy ham” is not regulated everywhere, it’s important to read labels carefully when buying it pre-sliced. Opt for brands using traditional artisanal methods and quality ingredients like Boar’s Head.

For maximum freshness, purchase Cappy ham sliced from the deli counter. Or buy whole Cappy ham legs from specialty Italian importers and stores.

Store Cappy ham as you would other deli meats – tightly wrapped in the fridge for 5-7 days. For longer storage, vacuum seal portions and freeze for 2-3 months.

Serving Suggestions for Cappy Ham

The rich yet refined flavor of Cappy ham makes it perfect in all kinds of Italian-inspired recipes:

  • Antipasto platters, charcuterie boards

  • Paninis, muffalettas, Italian subs

  • Omelets, frittatas, crustless quiches

  • Pasta salads, grain bowls, bruschetta

  • Pizzas, calzones, flatbreads

  • Soups like minestrone, lentil, bean

  • Lasagna, manicotti, baked ziti

  • Stuffed peppers, tomatoes, zucchini

  • Potato hash, roasted vegetables

Pair Cappy ham with provolone, mozzarella, roasted peppers, artichokes, basil, and other classic Italian ingredients. Its spicy character also complements mellow cheeses and smoky flavors.

How Cappy Ham Compares to Other Hams

While Cappy ham has its own unique peppery taste, it’s similar to other high-quality Italian cured hams like prosciutto in its dense texture and deep red interior. Key differences include:

  • Prosciutto – Saltier, drier, silkier; served paper-thin

  • Prosciutto di Parma – Complex nutty, savory flavor; soft and buttery when sliced fresh

  • Serrano ham – Robust smoky flavor from wood smoking

  • Iberico ham – Rich and buttery with prominent marbling fat

  • Speck – Smokier with distinct juniper aromas; popular in Germany/Austria

  • Virginia ham – Much saltier and drier due to longer curing

So Cappy ham stands somewhere between the overt saltiness of American country ham and the velvety texture of top-shelf prosciutto. It brings a distinctly Italian flair.

Interesting Facts About Cappy Ham

  • Cappy ham is a traditional specialty of the Emilia-Romagna region; it has EU protected status there.

  • The town of Cappuccio is located very close to Parma, famous for its namesake Prosciutto di Parma ham.

  • The ham legs are rubbed by hand with seasonings, never injected or machine spiced.

  • The term “Cappuccina” refers to the Capuchin monks originally from Cappuccio.

  • It takes at least 400 days to cure a Cappy ham using traditional methods.

  • The pork breed, diet, air, and terrain all impact Cappy ham’s complex flavor.

Enjoy the Fine Flavors of Cappy Ham

With its deep ruby-red color, salty garlic and paprika overtones, and smooth texture, Cappy ham captures the excellence of old world Italian charcuterie. Savor it in thin slices as part of an antipasto spread or diced up to add rich flavor to pastas, salads, and pizzas. However you serve it, authentic Cappy ham is an indulgence that brings all the warmth of Italy to your table.

How Capocollo (Gabagool) Is Made In Italy | Regional Eats | Food Insider

What is a capicola ham?

What is capicola? Capicola, coppa, capocollo, or cappacuolo, is a type of ham that gets its name from the cut of meat it is made from. This cut spans from the neck of a pig to the fourth or fifth rib, connecting the head, called capo, to the shoulder, called collo.

Where are Ham CAPI meats made?

All jesting aside, ham capi is one of my favorite sandwich meats and even works as an appetizer wrapped around cheese. All of the coppa meats we carry are made by east coast companies, Freda Deli Meats and Danielle Meats in Rhode Island. However, our hard capicolas will soon be produced in house.

Who invented Ham capicola?

A company called M&V Provisions company claims to have invented the ham capicola product in 1949. According to their website, ham capicola was created “by combining Italian capicola with boiled ham.” The version we carry at Di Bruno’s is called Ham-O-Collo. It is spicy, and nearly addictive.

Is Ham capocollo the same as Ham-CAPI?

The version that’s made in America is a little different, though, and it’s made with either red pepper or black peppercorn. Then, there’s ham capocollo, which is also called ham-capi and it’s also a different thing. That’s essentially a spiced and boiled ham, and it’s said to be a cross between ham and capicola. Confusing, right?

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