food for thought

by michelle

home-made prosciutto

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Having learned how to make salami recently we were inspired to try a whole prosciutto.

The first stage was salting. We’re not experts so we allowed our butcher to give us the correct amount of salt for the 9.5kg (21 lb) leg. We surrounded the leg in the salt for 9 days (with a few spices added for good measure). We then placed some heavy weights on the leg for an extra day to make sure as much liquid as possible came out of the meat.

prosciutto-stage-1           prosciutto-stage-2

After washing all the salt off with red wine we covered all the exposed flesh with hot spices, not only to flavour the prosciutto but to keep insects away. We used plenty of chilli powder and cayenne pepper.

Patience was required for the next stage – the curing.

prosciutto-stage-3

I confess we began this whole process a little late in the winter, causing problems as the weather became warmer. The temperature should be below 15ºC (59ºF) so we had to move ours to a fridge set at 8ºC (45ºF) for the last 4 weeks. The aim is for the meat to become quite firm and for the weight to reduce by at least 30%. While the meat is curing in this manner it’s quite normal for mould to grow on the surface. Apparently this mould (white or pale green) is not bad for you and helps the flavour to develop. Our leg reduced down to 6.5kg (14 lb 4 oz) before we decided to cut it open. We ended up with 4.5kg (10 lbs) of good prosciutto! After cutting, some parts of the meat were still a little soft and needed to be dried out in the fridge for a few days before storing. In conclusion, we’ll be doing this again.

prosciutto-final

* Please be aware that there are some dangers in curing your own meat. I have only relayed the basics of what I’ve learned and recommend that if you intend to make prosciutto you should research the subject thoroughly.

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Written by michelle picker

January 16, 2016 at 5:32 am

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