What is Prosciutto and What Does it Taste Like?

What is prosciuttoWhat is Prosciutto?

So what is prosciutto?   We see it served in Italian restaurants and even in the deli section of our grocery stores.   

Well, prosciutto is a meat which comes from pig.  Therefore it is ham.  But it is different than ham (actually I’ve seen duck prosciutto, but I’m writing this post about typical ham prosciutto).

Prosciutto is ham that has been cured.  You can eat it cooked, or raw.  What we often think of when speaking of this type of Italian food is the uncooked kind.

Can you eat prosciutto raw?

I’m not a fan of eating raw meat, so you’ve wondered if indeed the ham is safe to eat if it is raw, right?   It is safe if it has been cured properly.   Curing meat means it is washed and salted down then left to dry or “cure” for up to 2 years.

It is hung in a cool area and in Italy it is common to see a slab of ham hanging from the ceiling.  Below is a picture of some ham curing I took when I was in Italy.

prosciutto
My Italian relatives cured ham the good old fashioned way.

Parma Crown has a great step by step instructions which basically break it down into these following stages that they use.  This gives an idea of the process involved.

  1. Tagging of the meat
  2. Salting
  3. Resting/Salt Absorption
  4. Washing
  5. Initial Curing
  6. Lard Layering
  7. Final Cure
  8. Inspection
  9. Branding of the company logo

But what also gives the prosciutto it’s distinctiveness is how thinly it is sliced.  It is sliced in paper thin strips.

You cannot cut it this thin with a knife – well, I guess you could try, but it’s typically sliced at a deli where they have a professional meat slicer.

If you have a food slicer at home, you can use that to slice the cured meat as well.  Keep in mind, prosciutto must be cured.   Taking a basic slab of ham from the store and slicing it paper thin will NOT produce prosciutto!

What Recipes is prosciutto used for?

Prosciutto is frequently used in antipasto recipes, or even wrapped around other foods such as vegetables or cheeses. It can be eaten alone as is.

You can choose to buy pre-sliced prosciutto from a deli or super market, but try to look for ones which are from Italy.  They truly have the best.

What does Prosciutto taste like?

Not all prosciutto tastes the same, so if you have a specific brand or style you like stick with it.  The reason has to do with what the pigs are fed.   Since pigs are not picky eaters they will eat just about anything in their way.

Therefore some farmers will make sure their pigs are only able to feed on specific foods like grains or grass.   Other farmers are more lax and let the pigs eat junk like other animal by products. 

Naturally, all these factors can influence how the meat of the pig will taste.  Not always pretty – but it is reality.

Where to buy prosciutto online

Local stores can sell prosciutto, but you’ll get a wider range of options (even duck prosciutto) online through stores like Amazon, plus it’s more convenient.  If you don’t already, I recommend getting Amazon Prime for free shipping that you can take advantage of when the purchase qualifies.

Del Duca Sliced Prosciutto 

what is del duca prosciutto

This is popular brand and uses “just pork & salt”.  They also do not use any preservatives or chemicals.  It is made in the USA. 

You can order Del Duca prosciutto through Amazon and it will be pre-sliced. 

Levoni Prosciutto di Parma

what is prosciutto levoni

This prosciutto is aged 20 months and is imported from Italy.  It is ordered by the pound.   

Alma Gourmet Speck Alto Adige IGP 5 lb

alma-gourmet-prosciutto

You’ll have options to purchase the meat in bulk which is fine but you’ll need to slice it manually.  These are dry cured for about 6 months.   The dry cured smoked prosciutto by Alma Gourmet and comes with a seasoned crust and is smoked for added distinct flavor. 

It is a product of Italy and available through Amazon.   

How to serve prosciutto

Serving prosciutto is easy.  Basically put it on a plate and eat!  However, you can do more to give it more pizzazz.  This type of meat is often served with anti-pasto (check my recipe out).

You can take the strips and roll them up and place next to a dish of cheese, olives, whatever you want.

You can also cut them up in smaller lengths that can fit delicately atop some cheese and crackers.   These are great for parties, holidays, or just for a self indulgent treat!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy my other posts related to meats.

Enjoy!

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