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Prosciutto di Parma
Prosciutto ( ,[73187]> Pronunciation of "Prosciutto". Cambridge dictionaries online.) is the Italian word for ham. In English, the term prosciutto is almost always used for a dry-cured ham that is usually sliced thin and served uncooked; this style is called prosciutto crudo in Italian and is distinguished from cooked ham, prosciutto cotto.

Commonly associated with Tuscany and Emiliamarker, the most renowned and expensive legs of prosciutto come from central and northern Italymarker, such as those of Parmamarker, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and San Danielemarker.

Etymology

The word prosciutto derives from the Latin perexsuctum, which gave way to the modern Italian word prosciugare, meanings "to thoroughly dry".

Manufacture

Sea salt being added
The process of making prosciutto can take anywhere from nine months to two years, depending on the size of the ham.

Writer on Italian food Bill Buford describes talking to an old Italian butcher who says:
“When I was young, there was one kind of prosciutto.
It was made in the winter, by hand, and aged for two years.
It was sweet when you smelled it.
A profound perfume.
Unmistakable.
To age a prosciutto is a subtle business.
If it’s too warm, the aging process never begins.
The meat spoils.
If it’s too dry, the meat is ruined.
It needs to be damp but cool.
The summer is too hot.
In the winter—that's when you make salumi.
Your prosciutto.
Your soppressata.
Your sausages.”


Today, the ham is first cleaned, salted, and left for about two months. During this time the ham is pressed, gradually and carefully to avoid breaking the bone, to drain all blood left in the meat. Next it is washed several times to remove the salt and hung in a dark, well-ventilated environment. The surrounding air is important to the final quality of the ham; the best results are obtained in a cold climate. The ham is then left until dry. The amount of time this takes varies, depending on the local climate and size of the ham. When the ham is completely dry it is hung to air, either at room temperature or in a controlled environment, for up to eighteen months.

Various regions have their own PDO (Protected Designation of Origin), whose specifications do not in general require ham from free range pigs.

Prosciutto is sometimes cured with nitrites (either sodium or potassium), which are generally used in other hams to produce the desired rosy color and unique flavour. Only sea salt is used in many PDO hams, but not all; some consortia are allowed to use nitrite. Prosciutto’s characteristic pigmentation is produced by a direct chemical reaction of nitric oxide with myoglobin to form nitrosomyoglobin, followed by concentration of the pigments due to drying. Bacteria convert the added nitrite or nitrate to nitric oxide.

Use

Sliced prosciutto crudo in Italian cuisine is often served as an antipasto, wrapped around grissini or, especially in summer, cantaloupe or honeydew. It can also be wrapped in fresh mozzarella. It is eaten as accompaniment to cooked spring vegetables, such as asparagus or peas. It may be included in a simple pasta sauce made with cream, or a Tuscan dish of tagliatelle and vegetables. It is used in stuffings for other meats, such as veal, as a wrap around veal or steak, in a filled bread, or as a pizza topping.

Saltimbocca is a famous Italian veal dish, where escalopes of veal are topped with a sage leaf before being wrapped in prosciutto and then pan-fried.

Prosciutto is often served in sandwiches and panini, sometimes in a variation on the Caprese Salad, with basil, tomato and fresh mozzarella. A basic sandwich served in some European cafes and bars consists of prosciutto in a croissant.

Culatello

Culatello is a refined variety of prosciutto, made from heavier pigs, cut to a fraction of the normal prosciutto and aged, and may be cured with wine, with Culatello di Zibellomarker having PDO status. It is commonly served as a starter along with slices of sweet melon or fresh figs.

It is often served as a dish on New Year's Eve.

European Union Protected Designations of Origin

Prosciutto di San Daniele at the Central Market in Florence, Italy
the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union (EU), certain well-established meat products including some local prosciutto, are covered by a Protected Designation of Origin and other, less stringent designations of geographical origin for traditional specialties.

A complete list of agricultural products with an EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), or Traditional Speciality Guaranteed (TSG), listed alphabetically by nation, is at the EU Agriculture site.

There are two famous types of Italian prosciutto crudo exported abroad: prosciutto di Parma, from Parmamarker, and prosciutto di San Daniele, from the San Daniele del Friulimarker area, in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. The prosciutto di Parma has a slightly nutty flavor from the Parmigiano Reggiano whey that is sometimes added to the pigs' diet. The prosciutto di San Daniele, on the other hand, is darker in color and sweeter in flavour.

The other EU protected designations for prosciutto, each slightly different in color, flavour and texture, are:

See also



Notes and references

Further reading

  • McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking (revised). New York, NY: Scribner, 2004. ISBN 0-684-80001-2


External links




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