Finocchiona is a an anise-flavored, pork salami with origins in the Tuscany region of Italy. Legend has it that a thief stole a traditional salami and hid it in a bed of fennel, and when he retrieved it — voilà! The anise flavoring had infused the salami, and this new taste treat became a classic Italian hard sausage. Finocchiona is now a traditional part of Tuscan antipasto platters and a favorite food at many Florentine holiday feasts.
There are two types of finocchiona: the traditional aged version, and a fresh variation, finocchiona sbriciolona. Both are made from pork, pork fat, dried fennel seeds, peppercorns, sea salt, garlic and Chianti. Sbriciolona requires a rough chop of the pork and fat, but the aged version dictates these ingredients be run through a meat grinder before adding the wine and fennel infusion. Think of sbriciolana as an Italian pâté, and plan your antipasti accordingly.
It's always great to pair regional favorites: try a plate of finocciona, Pecorino Toscano cheese, fava beans dressed with olive oil and black pepper, and roasted red peppers. Serve with a bottle of Chianti Superiore and a loaf of crusty bread. Alas, you will have a hard time finding the cheese and salami if you don't live in a city with a good Italian market, but they can be ordered online from specialty grocers.
Jenkins, Steven: A Cheese Primer. New York, NY 1996: Workman Publishing Company, pp 242-243
What is Finocchiona?
Finocchiona: Tuscan Fennel Salami.