It is a spicy sausage, with rose-coloured with white blobs of fat in it. Some are made very small, some are made very large. The weight can range from 4 1/2 to 11 pounds (2 to 5 kg.)
It is made the meat left over on a pig after making “finocchiona,” spefically meat from the shoulder, top of the neck, and jowls, as well as fat from the pork belly, and prosciutto trimmings.
Seasonings include black peppercorns, ground pepper, salt, garlic paste, mace, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, and alchermes.
The seasoned meat is packed into a natural casing (a bladder.) The sausage is then let mature in a warm, humid room for 6 days, and then cooked, either by boiling in steel kettles, or by steam, until the inside temperature of the sausages reaches 154 to 158 F (68 to 70 C), about 3 to 4 hours if simmering, 12 hours if steaming.
The sausages are then allowed to cool, then sealed in plastic and sold on, either directly from the sausage makers or to consumers through grocery stores.
Mortadella di Prato can be eaten warm or chilled.
It was traditionally used to stuff Christmas tortellini (“tortellini di Natale”) in the area.
Mortadella di Prato has been made since at least the 1500s, but the knowledge just about died out by the end of the 1950s. The sausage was revived in the 1980s. A committee was formed on 12 September 2000 in Prato to promote the product. The committee is called the “Presidio della Mortadella di Prato.”
Currently, makers also add sodium nitrate, saltpetre and ascoribic acid, but the committee promoting the sausage is aiming to eliminate those.