June 2, 2020
Prosciutto is one of the best-known Italian foods in the world. It is a dry-cured ham that comes from pork. It is typically served very thinly sliced, carved right from the leg roast in the deli, or as paper-thin slices ready-to-use in a package.
The special curing process is what makes Prosciutto safe to eat, and in Italy, both cooked and uncooked varieties of prosciutto are consumed. Cooked Prosciutto is called prosciutto cotto and uncooked prosciutto is called prosciutto crudo. While we generally only have access to a few varieties of prosciutto in North America, Italy has a number of variations of the cured ham depending on the region. One of the best known (and reputed to be the tastiest!) varieties is Prosciutto di Parma from the Emilia-Romagna region.
What Makes Prosciutto Different From Other Ham?
Prosciutto is often confused with bacon, pancetta, or even guanciale but there are important differences between these cured pork products.
Both bacon and pancetta come from cured pork belly, and guanciale from the cheek. Pancetta is cured with aromatic spices and is sold in paper-thin slices or cubed. Bacon is also cured, but it is usually cold-smoked after it has been cured to maintain the meat raw. Both need to be cooked before eating.
Proscuitto, on the other hand, is a ham that comes from the hind leg of the pig. The curing process can take anywhere from several months to several years. There is no need to cook prosciutto—it can be served on its own as an appetizer or wrapped around a vegetable, such as in this simple recipe for Prosciutto-wrapped Asparagus, but you can also use it to wrap fruit or other meat like chicken breast, or even fish. Our Prosciutto-wrapped Halibut adds a wonderful saltiness to the tender fish.
Prosciutto can also be cooked to give it a crisp texture, and it makes a great and unique replacement for bacon bits in salads or in a grilled cheese, or as a savoury topping on flatbread or pizzas. Try it in this Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula. Whether you need a meal fast, something for the family, or to create a big feast, these Prosciutto recipes will have you covered!
Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula
1 lb pizza dough, thawed if frozen
1/2 - 1 cup crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce or passata
2-3 cups grated mozzarella (or both)
4-8 slices Soleterra d’Italia prosciutto
Preheat the oven to 450˚F. If you like, divide the dough in half; roll or stretch it out with your hands to make one or two pizza crusts. Place on a parchment-lined sheet.
Spread with crushed tomatoes and sprinkle with grated mozzarella, and drape over the sliced prosciutto. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake for 15 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. Scatter fresh arugula overtop, and shave over ribbons of Parmesan with a vegetable peeler before serving.
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