You’ve had it in sandwiches, wraps, over cantaloupes and in many other of your favourite foods for as long as you could remember- but have you ever wondered where does your favourite prosciutto meat come from?
Made with the hind legs of pigs, prosciutto is the Italian translation of your favourite ‘ham’. Known for being a perfect meaty accompaniment to many a main course, prosciutto is uncooked, unsmoked and made meticulously through a dry-curing process. Prosciutto or Prosciutto di Parma as it is known in its country of origination (that’s Italy if you’re wondering) has a history dating back to the pre-roman times.
But what’s more to know? Keep reading!
Prosciutto de Parma, The Story
Prosciutto, being one of Italy’s flagship foods, has a long history associated with it- the name itself originated from the Latin words pro, meaning ‘before’ and exactus, meaning ‘to suck out’– which is basically what it is!
Back in the pre-roman times, when food was conserved and stored for as long as possible to sustain people throughout the long winters is when the origin of prosciutto is first dated. Native Italians began to dry-age their pork legs to make sure the meats had a longer shelf life and tasted just as great days down the line. As centuries passed, the technique which results in the perfect cut of meat has also been perfected to finally become the process as we know it today.
How is Prosciutto made?
The traditional Italian Prosciutto di Parma is made by covering pork legs in salt and leaving it to rest for a couple of weeks. Following this, the meat is washed to rid it of any impurities and excess salt and seasoned as well. They are then stored in cold storage for any time between 1-3 years. It is this amazingly long resting period that gives prosciutto its world-renowned taste.
While there are many other variations in this simple yet delicate process across the world, Prosciutto di Parma is made from the meat of pigs that are raised in only 11 regions in Italy itself. It is also said that the air and unique climate of the Parma region is what makes Prosciutto di Parma better than its counterparts. Across the world, however, this cut of ham is sold with preservatives and other ingredients to suit the local flavour.
What does it taste like?
If you haven’t yet had a taste of this exquisite cut of meat and yet came across this article, you might be wondering what it tastes like. Traditional prosciutto is a sweet-salty flavourful food, with each slice streaked with fat. It has a salmon-like red-brown colour as well. However, there are many flavoured versions of the meat available to eat at the market, with some of the most common seasonings being black pepper, rosemary and garlic! And just like a fine bottle of wine, it tastes better the longer it is aged. If you’re going to be eating it now that you’ve read this article, make sure that your prosciutto slices are as thin as can be; this helps bring out the most flavour in the meat.
Prosciutto, As We Know It- How Can I Eat It?
So, we all love prosciutto- after all, who doesn’t? While it is known for being a great cut of meat, there’s always potential for experimentation with something as versatile as this. Some of us like eating it straight out of the paper it was wrapped into, fresh off the counter. A great tip for you to try when you eat it as is next time is for you to pair it with some fresh mozzarella cheese- now this is a combination that tastes like it just dropped out of heaven!
If you’re up for a party night with friends or family, prosciutto serves well as a quick bite! Maybe try topping some bruschetta with this beauty and toast it with some cheese on top. You’ve got yourself a treat, ready to go! If you’re looking for a bite-sized treat, you could go with my favourite recipe- SKEWERS! Get your hands on some of those skewers and line up some bocconcini, fresh basil and cherry tomatoes and there you have it- a quick mini-snack. There’s no limit to the ways to eat it really- feel free to go crazy! Prosciutto- is made with Love!
Now that you’ve read some convincing arguments as to why and how you should eat this delicate cold cut, what are you waiting for really? On your next trip to this beautiful European country, make it a point to visit the local towns where the OG prosciutto is made and sold- food always tastes best when it comes from home! But if you’re not patient and want to eat it now, it’s sure that your local cold cuts store has some that you can treat yourself to. So go on amico, get your slice now!