2/14/08

A Slice of Prosciutto

I suppose there are folks out there that don’t enjoy prosciutto. As all of our mothers used to say, “You don’t know what you’re missing!”

Me? I definitely enjoy prosciutto. Especially the really good stuff, but more on that in a moment.

So prosciutto is a type of ham, right? In simple terms, yes…

Actually, what we refer to as prosciutto in America is called prosciutto crudo, or just crudo in Italy. Crudo is the raw ham that is cured up to 3 years, giving it the look, taste and texture that we know well.

The process is fairly simple, but the final product depends greatly on the location of where it is prepared due to the effect of climate on the prosciutto. The ham is salt cured and pressed for approximately two months. The salt is then removed and the ham is hung in a dark and cool place until it is completely dry. At that point it is relocated to a more controlled environment for up to another 18 months.

Due to the reliance on environment for the quality of the final product, two locations in Italy are generally recognized as the best producers of crudo – what I like to call the “really good stuff”: Parma and San Daniele del Friuli. The Prosciutto di Parma variety will have a bit of nuttiness to the flavor and the Prosciutto di San Daniele will be a touch sweeter.

The next step is to find a good deli and try some for yourself, or better yet, share with family and friends.

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