When Palmo Donati, a butcher from Banale who lived in the mid-19th century, decided to mix the less noble parts of the pig with the white turnip - a tuber with little flavor - but very common and cheap, he could not have imagined that a product of the poor peasant cuisine would become a high-quality and sought-after product. Until a few years ago, ciuìga was the result of mincing the less noble parts of the pig (head and heart) together with abundant white turnips to create simple but tasty sausages. It soon became a widespread tradition and every family was able to make ciuìghe at home by leaving them to dry under the chimney hood and smoking them with the addition of a few sprigs of juniper for fragrance. This was a very poor food: salt, garlic, black pepper and the pig's blood to give it a deep pink color were added to a lot of turnip (80%) and what little meat remained from processing the pork.
La preparazione della Ciuìga oggi
Improved economic conditions have changed the way Ciuìga del Banale is produced, which has gone from being a poor cured meat to a high quality product. Today, only the noblest parts of the pig are used, and the percentage of white turnip is lower than that of the meat (70%), but sufficient to impart its typical spicy flavor. Blood has been replaced by Teroldego for its deep red color, which also adds a typical aroma. Smoking is still strictly natural with beech middlings.
Ciuìga del Banale is highly valued for its aromatic notes of black pepper and garlic and for the pleasant, round taste imparted by smoking. It must be cooked before being eaten and can be paired with an infinite variety of dishes. A traditional, simple and flavorful pairing is boiled potatoes with ciuìga. It can be served in sauerkraut instead of sausage, with polenta, or with cabbage - a typical pairing for the winter season.
Ciuìga is suitable for the preparation of ragù, canederli, risottos and orzotti. The wine of choice is certainly Teroldego, which it also contains inside - but a full-bodied Cabernet also enhances its flavor