The first time I “saw” someone playing the goat violino, it was in the hands of my friend Stefano Masanti, patron and chef of Il Cantinone Restaurant in Madesimo. Violin? Goat? Let’s put some order to learn about this gourmet rarity, produced in Valchiavenna, a small alpine valley in North Como.
Throughout the Alps there are different methods of preserving meat based on dehydration: from drying in the sun at high altitude to salting. The Valchiavenna goat violin is, in a nutshell, a goat ham. They use goats, which in the high mountains are still breeded outdoors, with a diet based on wild herbs. After slaughter, the legs are kept whole with bone and hoof; the meat is prepared with salt, herbs and spices. For the seasoning, which lasts 4-6 months, the “violins” are hung in the crotti, rooms dug in the rock that in Valchiavenna are always used for seasoning meat, cold cuts and cheeses.
Slicing this “ham” is a convivial ritual, it rests on the shoulder just like a violin, and you work with a sharp blade as if you were using a bow! The experience can be defined complete if the slices of this salted meat are accompanied with a dark cereal bread, spread with fresh butter from the pasture.
Recommended wine: Valtellina Superiore Docg, Inferno by Nicola Nobili.
Photo credits: Cristian Daniel Tam