Prosciutto

Making prosciutto from scratch is nerve-wracking. ¬† I started this project almost a year ago. ¬† During that time, my brother-in-law, who is the Chef at Bourbon Steak, also made a prosciutto. He started his a few months before mine. I saw him on July 4, and he said that his was a failure — it had caught a bad bacteria and didn’t turn out. So, I was pretty worried. I can’t compete with Omri’s amazing cooking, and you just never know what’s going to happen when a recipe takes a year to make!

I wish I had a few more pictures of the beginning of the process. I started by taking a whole ham, packing it in salt, and letting it sit in the refridgerator for 45 days. About every two weeks, I flipped it over and repacked it in the salt. After that was done, I took it out, rinsed if off, covered it in fresh ground pepper, packed it into a cheesecloth bag, and hung it in my charcuterie fridge, holding it at 55 degrees and about 80% relative humidity. And there it ages for six months.

After six months, I unwrapped the ham. Now here comes the hard part. When you unwrap the ham, it is going to be covered in an unappealing mold and will have some very pungent odors. Relax, take a deep breath, grab a still bristle brush, and scrape off all the mold. Mold is only on the surface. I scraped off all the mold, and then repacked the ham in another round of black pepper, put it back into the fridge — this time unwrapped– and let it rest for another couple of months.

If you’re lucky, the mold is only on the outside, and what you’re left with is delicious prosciutto. If you’re unlucky, then bacteria can grow down the bone. ¬†Because salt doesn’t penetrate the bone as fast as the meat, that’s where the bacteria usually penetrates first. When that happens it’s called “bone sour,” and you’ve just wasted a whole ham and a year!

Fortunately, today when I cut into the prosciutto, it was perfect. Well, almost perfect. I did a terrible job of butchery. But if you ignore my inept knifework, you still have a pretty good looking prosciutto.

Here’s what it looked like when I cut it open.

 

I cut the skin away and put a piece of it onto the meat slicer to cut those characteristic paper thin slices:

It’s just as good as any Italian prosciutto I’ve had. Delicious just plain.

There’s a zillion ways to eat prosciutto, but for this first try I wanted something simple.
A classic Italian presentation is prosciutto with Parmesan, olive oil, and arugula.

4 thoughts on “Prosciutto”

  1. Holy good god…I am drooling all over my laptop now. If ever you have an excess of prosciutto (or any of your other amazements) I will happily become your human garbage disposal. The last time I had really good prosciutto was when I was living in Naples, with a bit of young Asiago cheese, a hunk of pane integrale, and a fresh sliced tomato with tiny shreds of basil. *foodgasm*

  2. Dude this is so boss. My husband and I have been on the hunt for prosciutto (I like it thicker cut too, not the paper thin type) ever since our Italy trip and cannot find anything that comes close. Congrats on making it happen!!!

  3. Your proscuitto certainly make my mouth water , I just purchased two fresh pork legs and did the butcherin to expose the ball joint as I call it , I also trimmed it like they do in Italy , obviuosly not as good , heres my dilemma , I live in Los Angeles the weather here can be hot , its mid January
    day time temps are in the 65- 70 s night time temps are in the mid 40 s low 50s I just salted my pork legs with kosher rock salt , making sure I was generous with the salt filling any voids and covery every inch of the open flesh area i also salted the bottome and the bone where the foot would connect to
    My Pork legs weighed approx 25 lbs but after trimming some of the fat and removing part of a bone that attaches to the ball joint the legs probably weigh about 22 lbs , they say 1 day per pound so 22-25 days in the salt cure process I am concerned about the humidity and temp any tips should i do what you did and cure in in the refigerator ? if i set my refigerator tem to the highest what temp is suitable for the curing process . help ! any tips would be appreciated

    Geo

    1. I cured the pork leg in the refrigerator, at normal refrigerator temperatures (should be around 34F).
      During that step, the pork was inside a plastic bin, with a fitted wood lid, and 50lbs of weight on top.
      I flipped the leg over once about half way through, say 2 weeks in.

      After the curing step comes the drying/aging step. For this you need 55 degrees and 80% – 85% humidity.
      I use this device http://www.amazon.com/Refrigerator-Freezer-Thermostat-Temperature-Controller/dp/B000EXROSE to convert
      a spare refrigerator in my garage to the proper temperature, and then I use a bowl of water and an old USB powered
      external CPU fan as a makeshift humidifier. I carefully monitor the temperature and humidity, checking it every day.

      Good luck with your pork legs!

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