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Prosciutto - A Tasty Italian Deli Meat
I love a good prosciutto from the Italian deli. It is a treat with some bread and cheese, or even just rolled up as a quick snack. There is rich flavor and a number of different ways to use it in Italian cuisine.
Prosciutto, is a non smoked salted and air cured ham that is usually made from the hind legs of a hog. Sometimes the thigh is used. It gets its incredible flavor for many reasons:
*The pig is often a certain breed, like Nero di Parm and Nera Parmigiana.
*These pigs are fed particular diets of grain and whey.
*The process of massaging sea salt into the ham, and is air cured and aged for months or even up to two years.
One of the big reasons we get such great tasting meat from Italy, is that air cured meat needs to have a perfect climate and conditions which parts of Italy definitely have.
To draw out moisture during these processes, the ham has an application of sea salt, then is moistened by applying suet.
When buying prosciutto, it is suggested that you look for a rose color to the meat, and it should have a very savory, yet not salty taste. The thin strips of fat that you often see on prosciutto, is left on by Italians to lend some great flavor, which it indeed has.
The Prosciutto di Parma ham, is highly valued among Italians and other Europeans. There are strict inspections to pass, and if it does pass, the ham gets the special label which is a Parma crown on the ham.
There are many ways you can use prosciutto. You can use it for antipasto, stews, and several other Italian dishes. See more below..
A family tradition
We have a tradition in our family that happens around every Thanksgiving. It is only a tradition that is a few years old, but we love it all the same. We live not all that far from what could be called a "Little Italy". Its a great part of an older downtown area, and there are some incredible deli's and bakeries there. My sister and her family used to live not far from us, but since have moved several states away. Whenever she and her family come back for a visit, around Thanksgiving usually this Italian neighborhood is a stop that we never miss.
At the deli, we get favorite cheeses, garlic stuffed olived, and you guessed it, beautiful and tasty prosciutto. We often purchase spicy and mild italian sausage for our spaghetti sauces as well. Then we head down to the bakery which isn't far, and fill up pretty pink bakery boxes with our favorite Italian treats, along with some sliced Italian bread.
By the time we get back home, we are ready to eat, and the first package to be opened, is always the prosciutto. It is so good!