Hello my friends and welcome to another edition of my blog at The World of Pizza. Today we will talk about one of my favourite toppings of pizza, an exquisite type of meat known around the world as parma ham.
Parma Ham, or Prosciutto as it is known in my native country of Italy, is a chewy, flavourful cut of ham originating from the northern regions of Italy (particularly in Parma). It is created through a process called dry curing, which involves the usage of salt and air to create the meat’s unique characteristic flavour. No cooking or any other form of heat is used in dry curing.
Now some of you may be wondering, if the materials used are so simple, and no special cooking techniques are used in its preparation, then what makes Parma Ham so special? And why is it so rare and expensive? My friends, it is not as easy as it sounds at first, as it is a product which is covered by a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). This means that the materials and methods used in its production are very strictly regulated. In this article, let me share with you the many intricacies needed in making this very exceptional ingredient of pizza.
First of all, the meat used for Parma Ham comes from a very specific breed of pig: the Duroc or Landrance. As these pigs are raised, their diet is closely monitored and consists only of curds and whey left over after making Parmigiano, or Parmesan Cheese. Once they reach the ideal range of 12 to 14 kg, they are then sent off to be butchered, and the hind leg will then undergo the dry curing process.
Now, for the dry curing process itself, the ham is first cleaned thoroughly to remove any contaminants, then it is salted repeatedly over a period of approximately two months. This salting process removes the blood and moisture from the meat, and acts as a means to preserve it. This is very important, as the curing process can take as long as 2 whole years to complete!
After 2 months, once the salting is finished, the meat is then brushed and washed thoroughly to remove all the excess salt. Once it has dried, the actual curing process begins and the ham is hung in a dark, well-ventilated environment with consistent humidity and temperature. This is where the geography of Parma comes in: the unique qualities of the land produces constant, gentle breezes coming from across the hills of the region. These breezes are vital to the ham’s final flavour, hence the importance of this particular region. As a matter of fact, only around 200 curing facilities exist in the entire region, to ensure that the resulting product is of the highest quality. Sharp-eyed readers of The World of Pizza may notice a similarity in the strict guidelines governing Parma Ham and that of Napoli Salame, which was discussed in a previous article.http://www.theworldofpizza.com/scrumptious-neapolitan-salami-staple-ingredient-of-pizza/
When the Parma Ham is finally ready for consumption, it is cut into paper-thin slices, giving it an almost translucent appearance. The resulting flavour and texture of the meat is delicate and sublime, with an almost melt-in-your-mouth sensation teasing your taste buds the moment you take a bite of it. For this reason, Parma Ham is a popular choice as a topping of pizza.
And that’s it for today’s article! I hope that you have all learned something new and gained a deeper understanding and appreciation for the ingredients that go into your favourite pizza. Stay tuned to my blog for more exciting articles and don’t forget to subscribe to my mailing list to get your free recipes for an authentic Neapolitan pizza experience. Check me out over at Youtube as well, where I give video demonstrations of the best techniques in the preparation and creation of pizza.
Until next time, this is Agostino Vitiello saying, “Ciao!”