The first time I encountered salsiccia di Bra was shortly after we moved to Bra from our temporary quarters in Pocapaglia. We had decided to have a glass of wine at the Caffè Pasticceria Converso which, as the name implies, is a coffee shop and pastry shop in the historic center of Bra. What we didn’t know at that time and were to discover is that when you order an alcoholic beverage in the late afternoon at a bar or coffee shop you are having an aperitivo and with that comes food. At this particular visit they brought our wine and a plate containing several types of finger foods including some pieces of cheese, small crackers, little sandwiches spread with a type of egg salad, and some pieces of salsiccia di bra. We didn’t know that’s what it was then. We only knew that it looked like cut pieces of raw sausage. And we assumed that we were expected to not only eat them but to enjoy them.
I don’t have many problems with eating food in various stages from raw to cooked so I immediately tried one of those reddish morsels. It was delicious. June, who has a little bit more reluctance about eating raw food (some would say more common sense), also tried one. She agreed it tasted good but ate only one. She has eaten more since but still has some difficulty with it. It is not the idea of it being raw nor its texture but, she says, it is the color that is off-putting for her.
I was glad that we had experienced salsiccia di Bra early in our stay because after the first day of classes the other Masters group, that had started in November, hosted an aperitivo at the school and one of the dishes served was salsiccia di Bra. I was able to nonchalantly nibble on them while sipping my wine.
We have now had many experiences with salsiccia di Bra and found that it not only served raw but also cooked in ravioli or agnolotti served in a savory broth. It was a big part of the Easter week festivities in Bra. There was a Salsiccia di Bra booth at the fair market
and there was a pavillion where they were serving Mac ‘d Bra sandwiches made with Salsiccia di Bra, Formaggio di Bra, and Pane di Bra.
We learned that the salsiccia is made of veal but couldn’t identify the seasonings. Then we found a reference to it in the book, The Slow Food Dictionary to Italian Regional Cooking published by Slow Food Editore. It says this, “Salsiccia di Bra is a unique sausage of finely ground veal cured with sea salt, white pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon and mace, sometimes enriched with garlic, fennel, leeks, cheese (Parmigiano, mature Robiola or Toma), and wine. It is pressed into a small ram’s intestine. It is eaten fresh raw, or more rarely, broiled.” It is very delicately seasoned and goes great with wine or the popular aperitivo drink, Spritz (prosecco with Aperol).
So there you have it. You have now learned about a great regional, even local, dish of Piemonte and Bra. It is good! Come visit us and we will make sure you get some. I’m reasonably sure that with U.S. and Minnesota food regulations that you will never encounter it in Minnesota.