Prosciutto: The Uncooked Italian Ham

Discovering Prosciutto

When you say “prosciutto”, that translates to “ham” in Italian. It’s made only from the hind legs or thigh of pigs and is aged during a dry-curing process. In the US, prosciutto is used to describe an uncooked, dry cured ham, which is called prosciutto crudo in Italian. It is a fatty cut of meat sliced thinly and has a buttery texture and will melt in the mouth. The prosciutto crudo is more popular (a gourmet favorite) than the cooked variety, prosciutto cotto.

Is it safe to eat prosciutto crudo? When the leg is cleaned, it is heavily salted and left for two months in a cool, controlled environment. The salting process removes leftover blood and moisture and makes an unfit environment for bacteria. After salting, the salt is washed from the meat and then left to dry age for up to 18 months. The entire prosciutto making process can take anywhere from nine months to two years. The quality of prosciutto is based entirely on the curing process. Its history dates back thousands of years ago in Parma, Italy. Today, it’s made under strict quality controls only in Parma, using specially bred pigs, sea salt, and of course, air and time.

How is prosciutto served? Usually served as appetizer, alone or wrapped around another food, as fresh or lightly cooked vegetables, like asparagus. The saltiness pairs well with sweet foods like melon or dates. Thinly sliced prosciutto is often served as a part of a meat board or tapas spread, and it’s also a topping for pizzas.

You don’t want to eat prosciutto on a regular basis, because it’s high in fat and sodium, but it does supply certain nutrients, as well. An ounce of the average commercially purchased prosciutto contains between 3 and 3.5 grams of fat, of which about 1 gram is saturated. That same amount also supplies 8 or 9 grams of protein, and from 10 to 25 milligrams of cholesterol. Despite the saturated fat and sodium content of prosciutto, you still get certain key nutrients, though in small amounts. An ounce of the average store-bought prosciutto supplies 2 percent of the iron you need each day. Prosciutto also supplies trace amounts of zinc, niacin and vitamin B-12.

Appetizing Your Way to an Italian Night in Seattle

Have your reservations tonight at IL Bistro, and dine on some of the best antipasti we can offer this side of Seattle. Enjoy our meats, especially our prosciutto, paired with some the best vino from Italy or an exquisite local wine from our cellar.