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December 12, 2014

Sassaka is back!

The lumberjacks in northern Italy know how to keep warm. Centuries ago--even before salame was a widespread Italian tradition--the tree huggers of Udine along the Slovenian-Italian border needed a way to keep meat on their bones...and to keep their recently butchered harvest from spoiling.

In their cool cellars, they cured pork belly and back fat in garlic-marinated wine, salt, and whole black peppercorns. Both sides went into a cool smokehouse so the sweet smoke permeated the cured the slabs but didn't render the fat. The lot was finely chopped and blended to make a paste that could be packed into jars or rolled into logs. Kept cool and covered, the flavor-packed schmear would keep for months as the lumberjacks moved through the northern Italian forests.

To warm up from the inside out, those ancient foresters only had to warm up a slice from their hearty loaf then spread on a thick layer of sassaka. On top of hot toast, the "bacon butter" warms and begins to render for a rich and festive snack layered with sweet, smoky, salty flavor.

With this Italian inspiration, Smoking Goose has revived this winter tradition. Come on in soon for your allotment of bacon butter!

Prep at your table is simple. Let the sassaka come to room temp, about 20 minutes. Cut slices of crusty bread--the Italians prefer rye--and slather on the bacon butter while the toast is still hot.

Any leftover sassaka can be kept tightly enclosed in plastic wrap in the fridge. If properly stored, it'll keep till New Year's. But with flavor like this, we wager there'll be a need for seconds before 2015, Mr. Bunyan.

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