Smoked Coppa

First, this recipe can make a delicious coppa when done in the oven instead of smoking but I like the touch of smoke.

Second, what the heck is a coppa?

A coppa is a cut of muscle off a pigs shoulder. If you buy a whole butt roast, the coppa is the large group of muscles to the side of the bone. Remember, a butt roast isn’t from the butt, it is from the shoulder of the pig. It was called a butt from the fact it used to be shipped in containers called butts.

If you have ever had real capicolla, it is made from the coppa. However, it is hung in a special curing environment with controlled moisture and temperature for months. It is truly a great artisnal meat.

I am way too lazy to make capicolla but a follower of the blog sent me an old family recipe for curing and cooking a coppa in an oven. It was from the turn of the century and was unusable. It used salt peter and an incredible amount of salt in the recipe. It would have cured the meat and it would have lasted a long time without refrigeration but the amount of nitrites and sodium would have been incredibly unhealthy.

It did inspire me to make a coppa with less sodium and nitrites and I thought it might be tasty done in my Traeger Timberline smoker. So, I decided to get a coppa and see what I can do.

If you have a butcher who knows Italian butchery, he can cut a coppa for you. If not, you will have to cut your own from a whole butt roast.

I started by buying a nice whole bone in pork butt roast.

When the roast is unwrapped, you will see a bone showing with a large piece of meat to one side. Put the roast on the counter with the bone nearer the bottom of the roast. Above the bone is a line of fat that runs above the bone.

You can work your fingers into the fat line and it will easily start to separate. When it stops separating easily, take a sharp knife and continue cutting through the fat line.

When you have totally separated the meat piece from the bone piece, there will be a thin piece of meat and fat. Cut this off to form a nice oval roast shape.

You have just cut your first coppa!

Measure the thickest part of the coppa and record it for later. Weigh the coppa and record the weight.

Before I get into the recipe, I need to point out that this coppa recipe is cured. This means nitrites are introduced by a product called Prague powder #1. It is also called, Instacure #1, Pink Salt #1 and a myriad of brand names. The important thing is that it is 6.25% nitrites and 73.75% salt. If it is that mixture you can use it.

The reason to use Prague powder #1 is to get the pink colour and taste that we love in bacon and ham. Also, the pork will be smoked for a long time at low temperatures. The nitrites inhibit bacterial growth during the long smoke. With no nitrites, you would be running the risk of bacterial growth during the smoke.

However, too much nitrites are bad for you. Government agencies have set the safe limit for nitrites. It is important you don’t exceed them. So, it is important to use the exact right amount. If you double this recipe you need to double the amount of Prague powder #1. If you half it, you have to half the amount of Prague powder #1. To get the most accurate amount of Prague powder #1 I use a small gram scale. If you don’t have a scale, use the volume measure of ml or teaspoons but measure carefully.

I made up a curing mix. For each kilogram of the coppa, I mixed:

  • 15 ml kosher salt
  • 15 ml sugar
  • 3 grams (2.2 ml) Prague powder #1
  • 15 ml coarsely ground black pepper
  • 5 ml dried thyme
  • 3 ml garlic powder
  • 1.5 ml dried chili flakes
  • 1 ml ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 bay leaf, crumbled

If you are into US measures, for each pound of meat mix:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 0.04 ounce (1/5 teaspoon) Prague powder #1
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1//4 bay leaf, crumbled

Put the coppa on a plate or tray. Sprinkle the mixture over the coppa and rub it in.

Put the coppa in a zip lock bag or a vacuum sealer bag. Scrape any of the mix that fell off the coppa onto the plate into the bag. If you are using a zip lock bag, seal it. If you are using a vacuum bag seal it but do not suck the air out.

Put the coppa in the fridge to cure. To determine how long to leave it in the fridge, multiply the thickness of the coppa by 4. My coppa was 3 inches thick so I put it in the fridge for 12 days. I turned it every day or so.

Take the coppa out of the bag and rinse most of the rub of the surface under running water. Pat the coppa dry with paper towels.

Tie the coppa with butcher string every inch to get a nice round shape.

Make up a smoking rub by mixing the following for each kilogram of coppa you cured:

  • 7.5 ml whole coriander seed
  • 7.5 ml whole fennel seed
  • 4 ml whole black peppercorns
  • 1 ml dried chili flakes

If you don’t use metric, for each pound of coppa:

  • 3/4 teaspoon whole coriander seed
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black pepper corns
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili flakes

Put the mixture in a mortar and grind with a pestle until you have a coarse mixture. Alternatively, put it in a spice mill or coffee grinder and process until there are coarse chunks.

Rub the mixture over the surface of the coppa. Put it in the fridge uncovered overnight.

Preheat your smoker to 200 F. You can also cook it in a 200 F oven but I did like the smoke flavour in mine.

Put the coppa in the smoker and smoke it to an internal temperature of 150 F.

Let the coppa cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.

Slice the coppa as thin as reasonably can. Freeze any you will not eat in the next week.

The Verdict

This is amazing! It has the nice warm heat of capicolla and a great rich texture thanks to the wonderful fat marbling of the coppa. This is great on a pizza, in a sandwich with some nice ementhal, or, best of all, on a charcuterie plate. The flavour is rich and complex. This is one of the best things I have made.

The Old Fat Guy

Smoked Coppa

Smoked Coppa

Ingredients

  • 1 pork coppa (a trimmed meat portion from a pork butt)
  • Curing mix for each KG of coppa:
  • 15 ml kosher salt
  • 15 ml sugar
  • 3 grams (2.2 ml) Prague powder #1
  • 15 ml coarsely ground black pepper
  • 5 ml dried thyme
  • 3 ml garlic powder
  • 1.5 ml dried chili flakes
  • 1 ml ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 bay leaf, crumbled
  • Curing mix for each pound of coppa:
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 0.04 ounce (1/5 teaspoon) Prague powder #1
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1//4 bay leaf, crumbled
  • Rub mix for each KG of coppa::
  • 7.5 ml whole coriander seed
  • 7.5 ml whole fennel seed
  • 4 ml whole black peppercorns
  • 1 ml dried chili flakes
  • Rub mix for each pound of coppa:
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole coriander seed
  • 3/4 teaspoon whole fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried chili flakes

Instructions

  1. Have your butcher cut a coppa from a whole pork butt or do it yourself. See the directions in my post on oldfatguy.ca.
  2. Measure the thickness of the coppa and record it. Weigh the pork and record it.
  3. Mix the curing mix ingredients together.
  4. Put the coppa on a plate. Put the curing mix on all surfaces of the coppa and rub it in.
  5. Put the coppa in a sealable bag and scrape any mix that fell of the coppa onto the plate into the bag.
  6. Seal the bag and put it in the fridge for 4 days for each inch of thickness of the coppa (3 inches would be 12 days).
  7. Turn the meat every day or so.
  8. Take the meat out of the bag and rinse the most of the rub under running water. Pat the coppa dry with paper towels.
  9. Tie the coppa every inch with butcher string to get a nice round shape.
  10. Mix the rub ingredients together and crush coarsely with a mortar and pestle or a spice/coffee grinder.
  11. Rub over the surface of the coppa.
  12. Put it in the fridge overnight, uncovered.
  13. Preheat a smoker or oven to 200 F. Smoke the coppa to an internal temperature of 150 F.
  14. Let the coppa cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight.
  15. Cut the coppa very thinly. Freeze any that will not be consumed in a week.
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