Welcome to another Fast Fix Friday. This is a slam dunk, home run recipe. Every time I fix it, there are rave reviews. That’s why I for sure want to share it with you. There are tons of versions of this out there. I’ve seen it done with bacon, prosciutto, and pretty much any type of salami. Those versions are all good, don’t get me wrong, but this particular version is my favorite. There are a couple of reasons why. I really like the spicy flavor of the capicola, and it is also more salty than some of the other choices I listed above. Personally I think this is just the best.
What is capicola you may ask? Well it is a dry cured salami basically. It is rubbed with herbs and spices and usually paprika. Then it is put into a natural casing and hung to dry cure. Its name is a derivative of the Italian words meaning head and neck because that is where this cut of pork comes from. You might also see it labeled as capocollo or you might hear it called gabagool. Again, there is just something about this combination of herbs and spices that I think just really goes well with the asparagus.
This is one of the most simple dishes you will ever make. I have served it as a side dish, and I have served it as an appetizer. It worked great for both applications. I like it as an appetizer because it is a little bundle that is easy to eat and that salty, smoky, spicy bite goes really well with a cocktail like these Martini Monday – The Arnold Palmer, Martini Monday – The Cosmopolitan, Martini Monday – Champagne.
Preheat your oven to 350°. While the oven is preheating go ahead and line your sheet pan with either a silpat baking mat, parchment paper, or good ole aluminum foil. Wash your asparagus and pat it dry. You want the asparagus completely dry. I’ve known some people to blanch their asparagus for this recipe, but I don’t and I think it turns out just fine.
Go ahead and snap the asparagus ends off. They will naturally break where they should and just discard the ends as they are really woody in texture. If you are wanting to make your little bundles look perfect then you can go ahead and snap one stalk, and then just cut the others so that they are all uniform in length. The choice is up to you on that.
Next open your softened cream cheese and capicola. I really like to use my offset spatula for this next step but a butter knife will certainly do the trick. I peel off one little slice of the capicola (I buy mine pre-sliced which is what I would recommend, or at least have it sliced thinly at the deli). Then I evenly spread a thin layer of the softened cream cheese on the meat. I take a stalk of asparagus if large or a couple stalks if small, and I wrap the meat around the asparagus cream cheese side in. Next, I lay my little wrapped package of deliciousness on my lined baking tray seam side down. I do this until I am either out of ingredients or out of room on my tray. After they are all on the tray I like to take either an olive oil mister, or an olive oil baking spray and lightly coat the bundles. Then I sprinkle with coarsely ground pepper and just a little coarse salt. Don’t use too much salt, because it is cured, the meat is salty already.
Now you are ready to put the sheet pan in the oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. I really like mine done. Not crunchy, but not limp or roasted. I want the bundles to hold their shape so people will be able to pick them up eat them. I would just watch as they are cooking. You want the meat to be a little crisp on the edges. Or at least that is the way I prefer it for texture. Once you have fixed this dish a couple of times you will know what works best with your oven.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do. Until next time. Remember it doesn’t take all day to make a fabulously elegant appetizer, and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Above all, always remember to stay glamorous my friends. xoxo