Or, at least began the process of becoming prosciutto. Salumi’s hindquarters were finally fully thawed this morning, so I took them out, removed them from their packaging, and got them ready to cure!
Prosciutto is the most well-known type of salt-cured and air-dried ham. Prosciutto di Parma is from the Italian city of Parma. I don’t think you can call it “Parma” if it’s not from there. Nowadays, “prosciutto” is a more generic term, like champagne. The Spaniards also make fine “Serrano” hams in roughly the same way, although you hear stories of romance in Spain, involving happy ruminants tromping along beneath oak trees, feasting upon delicious acorns, getting all plump and rich-tasting.
To make a truly good ham in the style of prosciutto, all you need is the best possible pork, salt, and time (and lard and peppercorns, but those come later). The preparation for this initial step could not be more basic. You add four pounds of granulated salt to a fresh, raw ham. There are no flavors for inferior hams to hide behind. This is all about accentuating and showcasing every porky bit of ham goodness.
I use plastic bins for the curing process. Salt is packed all over every square inch of the hams, with special concentration of salt where the femur is exposed, leaving the remainder of the salt in the bottom of the plastic bin, and on top of the ham. After covering with plastic wrap, you weigh down the ham with at least 10 pounds of bricks (I wrap the bricks in aluminum foil, you can also use heavy pans, or whatever you have).
The ham is placed in the refrigerator to cure, at least one day for each pound of weight. You need to check the hams at least every other day, draining any excess liquid that’s collected and maintaining the salt cure by adding more salt, if needed. These two hams are just under 15 pounds each, so I’m planning that they should be ready to remove from the cure around September 26.
Meanwhile, you might be interested in some nuns who make cheese. How awesome is that? The Gouda Life, indeed!
Also, here are two words that really shouldn’t be used together: food industry. Can you name an industrially-produced food that is truly worth eating?
[Note: Beer Camp voting continues until the end of the month. I’m holding at 10th place, but several “up and comers” are threatening to dislodge me from that position. I’d really appreciate if you could keep me there].