The prestigiuous prosciutto di San Daniele
Prosciutto crudo — this is an Italian dry-cured ham made from the hind leg of a pig or wild boar that is rubbed with salt and spices and often aged 10-12 months. Traditionally, they were made in the winter, to be served 1-2 years later. It is most often served uncooked, thinly sliced and with an aperitif or as part of an antipasti platter. It has a salty, gamey taste that goes perfectly with drinks. Each prosciutto crudo is very local, and traditional to its region.
Prosciutto cotto – is ham that has been cooked. It is the kind you often find in a cheese and ham sandwich.
Culatello – this is another Italian regional ham, often from Zibello, south of Parma, very close to the Po River (it’s all about the winds over the river and so on). It is very expensive as you can only use the muscular part of each hind leg of the pig.
Italian speck – not to be confused with the German bacon type of ham, the Italian speck is very similar to prosciutto but the meat has been cured first with spices and then lightly smoked.
Iberico ham – the Spanish and Portuguese version of dry-cured ham. “Iberico” refers to the breed of black pigs, traditionally fed on acorns. There are four labels to choose from — black, red, green and white, with black being the most expensive — the length of the ageing process is longer. The deeper the colour and more marbling you see, the better the ham as the richer it will taste. The ham is hand-cut and served with drinks.
Serrano ham – a Spanish dry-cured ham, “serrano” means ham from the Sierra mountain range where the common breed are white pigs. It is not as expensive or quite as prestigious as the Iberico ham; still, it is delicious, served thinly sliced.
Pancetta – we know pancetta as Italian bacon, a salt-cured pork belly made with black peppercorns and other spices. Often, you find it cubed and used in pasta sauces and so on. In Italy, it is common to serve it thinly sliced, as part of an antipasti meat selection
Lountza – this is cured and lightly smoked meat made from pork tenderloin. It is one of the most popular delicacies of Cypriot cuisine, where it is brined, marinated in red wine and then dried and smoked. Serve thinly sliced.
Fruit with Ham
Roasted figs with prosciutto
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
- Wrap a thin slice of cured prosciutto (of your choice) around a sweet ripe fig and place on a baking tray.
- Drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil, season with a pinch of sea salt and grind of black pepper.
- Roast in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle with a little more oil and sprinkle with Calabrian chilli flakes. Serve with a small dressed salad of rocket or shredded radicchio leaves.
Serves 1, 84 calories, 5.2g carbs, 5.1g fat, 1.1g sat fat, 4.8g protein
Prosciutto and melon
Once, when I was in Verona, I was served thinly sliced prosciutto on wax paper, with wedges of fragrant orange-fleshed melon, all drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. It tasted so good and I’ve recreated the dish many times (using the waxed paper too!). I like to use sweet cantaloupe and charentais melons.
Serves 1, 109 calories, 6.8g carbs, 5.4g fat, 1.5g sat fat, 8.7g protein
Prosciutto, white peaches and rocket
I just love this flavour combination; the fresh sweetness of a white peach with the zingy, peppery rocket and salty prosciutto. Always drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and season with freshly cracked black pepper and, if you like, you can grill the peaches first and sprinkle with Calabrian chilli flakes before you serve.
Serves 1, 112 calories, 5.3g carbs, 5.6g fat, 1.5g sat fat, 10.7g protein
Also from Mediterranean:
Reprinted with permission from Mediterranean: Naturally Nutritious Recipes from the World’s Healthiest Diet by Susie Theodorou and photography by John Kernick and published by Kyle Books, 2018.