By Rocco Rainone, Tenured Manager
The month of November might scream Thanksgiving to you, but here at Di Bruno Bros., there’s a little something extra on our minds: Prosciutto Fest. As a tenured manager at Di Bruno Bros. and connoisseur of the gloriously nutty ham, I’ll take any opportunity to talk shop when it comes to prosciutto.
Did you know that the renowned Prosciutto di Parma brand is a name and process protected by the actual Italian government? In order to produce the highest quality of prosciutto, only specific hogs are approved to become Prosciutto di Parma, and after the entire curing process, the meat has to pass through the vetting of the Prosciutto Consortium before being approved.
Think you’re prepared to become a prosciutto expert? Let’s dig into the sweet (and salty) life of a prosciutto hog.
So what’s so special about these Prosciutto di Parma hogs, anyway? The delicacy can only be produced from hogs born and bred in Italy and monitored, inspected and traced on a regular basis according to high standards. These heritage breed hogs are raised in 11 highly specific regions of Italy.
Once these special hogs are ready to become Prosciutto di Parma, they enter into an intricate process of cleaning the hog legs, hand-salting the meat and sitting to rest for two months.
This might sound simple, but it’s only the beginning. During those two months, the legs dehydrate in a controlled environment to keep them safe from microscopic organisms.
Next, the legs are placed in a dark, ventilated environment with closely controlled air conditions to ensure final quality. But they aren’t done yet. Prosciutto takes anywhere from 400 days to two and a half years to perfect.
Trust me when I say that good prosciutto goes with just about anything. Try pairing prosciutto with a firm, strong cheese like the king of cheeses, Parmigiano Reggiano. For a sweet combination, try wrapping cantaloupe or figs with a slice of prosciutto, then drizzle the final product with a bit of our DB White Truffle Honey.
In addition to Prosciutto di Parma, there are a ton of other high-quality brands of specialty prosciutto from different parts of the world. Here are a few of our favorites that you can find online and in any of our stores during Prosciutto Fest.
This “mountain ham” gained its name from the Monte Nevado family from Segovia, a city in Spain that resides on a cliff overlooking the local area. The Monte Nevado family has been crafting high-quality prosciutto for more than 120 years. Jamón Serrano ham dries for 20 months in order to create a full, intense and elegantly meaty flavor. This melt-on-your-tongue prosciutto tastes great with cheese and olives.
Fermin Martin and his wife Victoriana Gomez started Fermin Iberico in 1956. Still a family-run business today, Fermin Iberico produces fine cured pork products in Spain. This dry-cured ham from Iberico pigs native to Spain rests for 36 months and has a marble look throughout the meat. Known as the “Kobe beef of pork,” the ham has a subtle, salty taste with a velvety finish. Fermin Iberico pairs well with Manchego or Valdeón cheeses.
Sourced from Iberico pigs, Fermin Dry-Cured Chorizo is air-cured chorizo. The meat is first marinated in olive oil, garlic, sea salt and mild pimento. Then, the chorizo is hung to dry in the crisp air of the mountain village La Alberca, in the mountains near Salamanca. Slice this meat up salami style and pair it with aged cheeses and Spanish white wine.
This cured ham comes from free-range Iberico pigs fed a strict diet of Spanish acorns. Prepared similarly to the Fermin chorizo, Salchichon is marinated in olive oil, garlic and sea salt. This Spanish-style salami is finished with salt, pepper, grated nutmeg and a pinch of coriander. I suggest drizzling Salchichon de Vic with a little olive oil and sea salt and pairing it with Manchego or Valdeón cheeses and white wine.
Is your stomach rumbling? Same. You’re invited to see all of the prosciutto pleasantries in action at one of our upcoming Prosciutto Fest in-store demonstrations:
● Saturday, 11/25: Prosciutto Di Parma (Ardmore Farmers Market)
● Sunday, 11/26: Prosciutto Di Parma (Rittenhouse Farmers Market)
I know all of this prosciutto talk can become confusing once so many styles and flavors are involved, so come pay me a visit in our Rittenhouse store to chat even further. Whether you have questions about prosciutto hogs, processes or pairings, our team of experts has the answers.