Based in the town of Vic, an hour away from Barcelona, Casa Riera Ordeix has been producing the finest salchichón de Vic for six generations. A family business run by the great grandsons of the founder, the company produces this well-known cured meat that has been in the Brindisa range for 20 years.
CASA RIERA ORDEIX: THE HOME OF THE LEGITIMO SALCHICHÓN DE VIC
The town of Vic and its surroundings has long been associated with the rearing of pigs which provide the raw material for its greatest claim to fame, the salchichón.
Right in the centre of the town, close to the main square sits a flat fronted, five storey building whose windows are covered by louvred shutters. This is the home of the Legitimo Salchichón de Vic I.G.P. Founded in 1852, Casa Riera Ordeix has been based at this site since its beginnings and, during this time, has continued to produce essentially this single product, whose fame has spread throughout the country and beyond.
Started by Josep Riera Font, and continued by his son Pau Riera Ordeix the business is now run by the sixth generation of the family, the great, great, great, great grandsons of the founder, Joaquim Comella Benet and Joaquim Comella Riera.
THE RANGE OF PRODUCTS
As well as the Salchichón de Vic IGP, Casa Riera Ordeix also produce a number of different types of fuet, a thin, fast curing sausage typical of Catalonia. This lightly cured salchichon is made from the meat of male pigs stuffed into natural casings, and is ready in about three weeks.
The company also produce various types of salchichones de payes coarse cut sausages in narrower natural casings which are cured for between two and three months; as with the fuet it is made from the meat of male pigs rather than sows. The total output of Casa Riera Ordeix is about 70,000kg annually.
THE TRADITIONAL PRODUCTION PROCESS
The meat is bought from trusted local farmers, many of whom have been supplying Casa Riera Ordeix for decades, whose livestock is raised on the plain of Vic.
- On Thursdays and Fridays the shoulder and belly meat is trimmed and cleaned, combined with salt and black pepper, the only seasoning used in the process, and left to rest over the weekend to undergo a brief period of fermentation.
- On Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays the natural casings, always used for their salchichones, are filled using a large diameter sausage filling machine. The ends are tied up and the salamis hung on drying racks ready to be taken upstairs for start of the curing process.
- The salchichones are taken to the upper rooms that make you feel as if you have stepped back in time. Thousands of salchichones in various stages of curing hang from wooden racks which cover the warped and crooked floorboards. Casa Riera Ordeix is the last producer in Vic to use only natural drying techniques to cure their salchichones, all the others have either closed or moved to more modern production methods using artificial controls to dry the sausages. Here all is done by the winds and the sun and the ambient conditions; using the louvred window shutters to control the flow of air from outside, the curing process can be then speeded up or slowed down.
- As they dry, the salchichones begin to develop a coating of moulds, unique to this place; rather than an even build up, they naturally develop on the damper side and subsequently they are manually turned to allow this to occur on all sides of the sausage. This mould growth is evidence that the curing is developing correctly, initially white moulds develop when the salchichones are at their most moist and, as they dry, they become greener, a sign that the maturing process is on course.
- The maturation of the salchichones can vary from 90 to 180 days dependent on external factors. There are no rule books to follow, all is done under the watchful eyes and nose of José Valenti who has been overseeing the production for twenty years and whose instinct for the needs of his embutidos is almost infallible.
DID YOU KNOW?
For the Salchichón de Vic the production process begins with the preparation of the meat that always comes from the meat of sows or female pigs which are usually around seven years old. Older animals are preferred because of the more intense flavour of their meat.