The lovely platter of cured meats is one I recently enjoyed at the Ostaria Corippo in a little town of the same name in the vicinity of Locarno in Northern Ticino. Corippo has the distinction of having the smallest population of any town in Switzerland – 12 people as of December, 2014.
The Ostaria is a typical grotto where they serve only local dishes, gnocchi, polenta, or risotto with mushrooms, local cheese, or sometimes braised rabbit. Desserts are limited to Torta di Pane, made from leftover bread, and Torta della Nonna, a pie made from sweet dough with a lemon filling.
While the excellent artisanal cured meats of Ticino aren’t available everywhere, here are some suggestions on putting together an assortment from what you’ll find at your local deli counter.
Prosciutto: Make sure of 2 things in purchasing prosciutto for your platter of affettato: it has to be sliced micro-thin and needs to have a little fat at the edges or it will be excessively dry and salty tasting.
Dried Sausage: I usually try to get one called cacciatorino – it’s a dried pork sausage flavored with black pepper and sometimes coriander seeds and NO GARLIC!!! You usually buy a whole one and peel and slice it thinly at home. For easy peeling, hold the sausage under running hot water for a minute, slash the casing with the point of a knife, and peel.
Soppresatta: A larger version of cacciatorino, sometimes containing garlic and other seasonings. Follow peeling directions above if you buy a small whole one.
Mortadella: Not usually included in Ticino, but good if you need to beef up the assortment. Purists frown on the kind studded with pistachios.
Salami: Can be good or mediocre depending on the brand and the seasonings. Ask for a taste as it’s usually pretty easy to detect the presence of garlic powder and other ersatz flavors.
Serve your assortment with gutsy country bread, sweet butter, and some cornichons, pickled onions, and pickled hot peppers too if you like. It’s a great first course or even a main course for a light meal.