Part of the beauty of being friends with a legitimate sous chef is the amazing amount of culinary options that open up to you if you seek them out. For me, what was once a best friendship in high school based on bands like Depeche Mode and Smashing Pumpkins has become a better friendship based around getting creative in the kitchen together. Certainly, it helps when said friend has access to equipment and shit.
So, last year when I mentioned to him that I wanted a fresh ham — not the water-product they sell at the grocery store, but a real fresh from the hog ham — he filed it and looked around. Next thing you know, we’re packing a salt mixture on to the sumbitch and looking at the best ways to make this fat hog leg into a delicious proscuitto. Beautiful.
So, here is the beginning of my two year adventure in proscuitto-making. From what I’ve read, the conditions that proscuitto require to be successful have to be just right, and so naturally, I am expecting to fail on my first time out. But I thought it would be fun to document the process while it happens.
First things first: buy a big ass ham. Fresh. Seriously. It has to be fresh from the hog. So, good luck with that.
Next, you have to start the curing process. To do this, we ground a few spices up and combined it with fine sea salt. Coriander seeds, cloves, black peppercorns, ground rosemary and fresh, minced garlic all went into what we decided would be the best herbs to properly flavor this bad boy.
We’re now in the process of letting it sit to let the juices come out. After all, making a true proscuitto takes anywhere from nine months (for the shortcut style) to three years (for the real deal).
Stay tuned, and more is sure to come.