There’s an old Italian joke that goes like this: “The only way to make your own prosciutto is to buy your baby pig a one-way ticket to Parma.” When said in broken English, it’s much funnier than it reads. Last fall, I decided to try to make my own prosciutto. Whether the idea was born of fiscal desperation (the desire to avoid paying $18-$25 per pound), or memories of garages with paper-bag covered pig legs dangling from the ceiling, or perhaps the Travel Channel special on the Parma region of Italy, the concept took hold. I began Project Prosciutto.
I didn’t have a baby pig of my own to send to Parma, so I went out and purchased a pork shoulder. Next, I Googled how to turn this hunk of pork into a cured meat delicacy. I washed the meat in vinegar, rubbed it with spices, pressed it in salt, rinsed it, larded it and hung it. All was well, no vermin were gathering and I had high hopes for my piggy. I waited in eager anticipation for six months, as I don’t have the proper conditions to give it a full 18 to 30 months.
The day finally came to taste my prosciutto. I sharpened my best knife and began the inaugural slice, when about ¼ of an inch in, I hit something, and that something was a bone. Unfortunately for Project Prosciutto, I neglected to have the butcher de-bone the shoulder. The bone ran through my prosciutto at such bizarre angles that I had no choice but to remove a boneless corner of my pig’s shoulder and reserve the remaining boney, yet oh so tasty, portion for flavoring soups.
Inevitably, I will be shopping for my prosciutto again. There are a few Italian delis in and around town, Nicolos’s, Belgiovine’s, Rosario’s? So where is the best prosciutto in Baristaville?