When we think of Italian food, it's crispy pizza, creamy pasta and cured meats that come to mind. Meats just like prosciutto. This Italian-born delight has been pleasing stomachs for centuries, made using a traditional process of curing meat that's practically an art form. The result? Thinly sliced delicacies that melt in your mouth.
Simple yet magnificent when eaten solo, it truly becomes a masterpiece when rustled up with other food – whether it's on pizza, as part of antipasti, or wrapped around fruit. Great restaurants like Piada & Gnocchi, Sotto Pizza and Pietza all pair up prosciutto for some unforgettable savoury action.
This Italian wonder ham comes in two varieties. Cotto – cooked or boiled – has a milder and sweeter taste, and crudo – raw, but cured in salt – is savoury and aromatic. Curing the meat can take anywhere from two months to two years, the longer the better. You know what they say, good things come to those who wait. Regional varieties can also infuse the meat with fennel, garlic or pepper.
Proscuitto comes from the hind legs of the pig, and Italian producers take their cattle super seriously – they must be born and bred organically close to where the meat is produced – so you know it's going to be awesome every time. Butchers say this is the only way to constantly achieve that characteristic taste and outstanding quality – and when it tastes this good, who are we to argue?
The word prosciutto comes from the Latin perexsuctum, which means 'dried thoroughly'. It dates back to pre-Roman times when salting and curing were used to preserve meat, so let's all be thankful to Julius Caesar and his gang for not inventing the fridge just yet. Many types of prosciutto are DOP – protected products which can only be made in certain regions – so when you see DOP or PDO on a menu, it means that this stuff is the real deal. Piada & Gnocchi source their prosciutto di Parma from the northern Italian city of Parma, and it's perfect in their piada flatbreads along with olives and tomato sauce.
Practically every region in Italy has its own version of prosciutto – each slightly different to the next – but the most prestigious varieties come from northern and central Italy. Besides Parma, the increasingly popular rival on the scene is prosciutto di San Daniele, made near the village of San Danielle Del Friuli. It's sweeter in taste than di Parma, making it better suited to cheeses and breads – no wonder it's the preferred choice for Sotto Pizza, who serve it up as part of their mixed Antipasti Misti. And Pietza serve their prosciutto on homemade, hand-stretched pizza. It comes alongside the fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan and arugula, so the ham's flavour isn't over-powered, and fast-baked in a brick oven.
Try prosciutto, the Italian melt-in-the-mouth masterpiece. Now delivered to your door by Deliveroo.
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