International Cooking School


Some Culinary Trivia: Did you know the Gauls are credited with introducing pig-farming to the region in the 4th-century B.C. And the recorded history of actually making Prosciutto di Parma dates back more than 2,000 years?

Emilia-Romagna is one of three Italian regions famous for its prosciutto, produced in the province of Parma and its surrounding Langhirano area. Obviously, those Emilians have the technique down by now, for it takes them more than one year of skillful curing to produce their prosciutti, an all natural product made with only a specific breed of adorable pink pig, salt, air and time.

Before the little piggies can go to market, they dine on the whey of Parmigiano-Reggiano along with their mash. No steroids or hormones are permitted and no additives such as water, nitrites, sugar, spice and smoke are permitted during the curing and aging process. No heavyweights here - think light and pure. Each leg is brushed, trimmed and smoothed, salted and hung to rest, washed, then hung and air-cured in a temperature-and-humidity controlled room for more than 300 days; for export into the United States, it is a minimum of 400 days.

The air flowing up over the Apennines into Langhirano is one of the important components in this process, and as a result, Prosciutto di Parma needs only a little salt during its air-curing compared with many other types of cured ham. With an annual production of more than 8,700,000 Prosciutti di Parma, more than 3.5 million pounds are imported annually into the United States. Like those pageant beauties, the firm, luscious thighs that pass inspection receive the brand of the Duke of Parma's five-pointed crown, guaranteeing quality and origin, and only then can be called Prosciutto di Parma.

Prosciutto di Parma is so exemplary, that some of Emilia-Romagna's producers have been consultants to other countries, such as Canada and China for more than 20 years, advising their experts on how to best breed and raise those young lovelies and cure their delicious gams. In our region, breeding today results in a prosciutto having 30% less cholesterol and 50% more monosaturated (not saturated) fats! Per Serving: 3 slices or 1.35 ounces contains about 125 calories with fat surrounding, 75 calories without fat surrounding. Containing far less fat than those ballpark franks, bangers or breakfast sausage, prosciutto is also a good source of B vitamins, especially thiamin. Delicate and sweet with just a hint of salt, we love serving prosciutto wrapped around juicy melon or ripe figs... there's nothing better on a lazy sunny afternoon. Layered in pasta, on top of cotoletta, chopped and added to sauces, Prosciutto di Parma is delicious with all sorts of dishes. Oink, oink.