After last May’s Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo event, I was talking food with one of the cooks who opened their homes to that first group – the wood fire pizza making guru – Nicolo Ciarlo. Note the meats hanging in the background –
What? Are you serious, I demanded. Your parents make prosciutto crudo in Connecticut? Do they buy a whole pig? “Midge”, he looked at me like I was stupid, “they go to Costco.” Dimmi, I replied – tell me and tell me all! He did – here is just one of the type of things you can learn if you come to Cook in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo May 20 – 27th 2017!
Prosciutto Crudo – Made and Eaten by YOU!
First of all don’t go running out today to start the process. The best time to make prosciutto crudo is from December to March. AND – you really need to live in a place with an unheated garage. Talk to the meat manager at Costco and find out when the fresh meat arrives. Go on that day and buy fresh ham – a pigs upper leg. Make sure it is on the bone – it is the butt and part of leg bone. While you are there buy a ton – I mean a real ton of large grain salt.
Location, location – bring home the hog and head for the garage. Get out your large wooden pasta board or just use a wooden table – now I do not know why it has to be a wooden table. This is not exact science here – but hearsay and traditional methods. Put a table cloth on the board or table first and cover it with lots of salt – so much salt that you can’t see the tablecloth. Put the hunk of pig on the salt and pour more sale all over the pork. Rub that salt in! Get that salt in every crevice. Now, wrap the meat in the table cloth and raise one side of the board or the table to a pretty good angle. Stick a large plastic tub on the floor near the low end. The tub will catch the salt, blood and liquids that will run off the meat. Yum. You do not want the meat to freeze! A cold garage but not a freezing garage is best. Keep the dog out of the garage! The meat stays in this position for 40 days.
After 40 days take cloth off the meat. You can press the meat down to insure that all the liquid is gone. To remove the salt wash the meat thoroughly in red wine. You may drink a glass of red wine during this process. Next tie a sturdy cord around the bone and hang it from a rafter for one day – that plastic tub comes in handy now too. You need the wine to dry out. When you wash the hog with red wine you see the meat become red.
After the meat is dry, absolutely cover it with red pepper, black pepper and garlic. Rub those peppercorns in and cover the meat with a light cotton fabric so that bugs can’t get in. Now hang the processed meat for one or two years – depending on the weight in an area that is always cool. You may have to move it from garage to the basement etc. Wait a second? Did you think you were going to get immediate gratification? Traditional fare takes time and is worth the wait. After the meat hangs for the requisite years you clean off the conserving spices. Next slice off hunks, put them in vacuum pack bags and enjoy.
Speaking of enjoying – why not come to my little village next May and Cook in the Kitchen’s of Pontelandolfo!
Saturday, May 20, 2017 To Saturday, May 27, 2017 Limited to 8 People
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