You probably realise by now that I love learning about food so when my husband John and I were invited to our friend’s house to learn how to make proscuitto we were thrilled to say the least. This is certainly something we would not have been exposed to while living in the middle of Sydney so I thought I would share it incase it’s new to you too! (Please bare in ind that I am recalling this information after a couple of weeks have passed and a few wines consumed on the day so excuse any anomolies!)
We’ve got some great talent in Daylesford, especially in the area of food, and we were lucky enough to get a proscuitto lesson from one of the best chefs in town! So after a few glasses of wine (we had a babysitter that afternoon – yay) and some yummy cheese and biscuits, the tutorial began.
It is important to select a good quality leg of pork (see your butcher). On this particular day there were four legs of pork cured. Each leg should weigh between 10 and 12 kilos to give you enough meat when it is cured but no be tough due to being too large. The bone should also be left in.
The next thing is to cut off any poor quality pieces, excess fats etc. There are some pieces that can be cut off and used to create a hearty stock. (see below pic)
Bleeding the leg is an important step where any remaining blood from the veins of the leg is squeezed out and removed. This is the revolting part but will help to prevent spoiling.
The way that a simple leg of ham is cured is by a process of drying it out. Of course this can be done in big drying machines but us being simple country folk now, we were very pleased to see that the legs were to be cured using large amounts of salt and the natural process of osmosis.
At this point the legs are covered liberally in seasoned salt. It’s important to get the salt into all of the nooks and crannies to make sure that all of the meat is covered and protected.
The legs are then stacked on top of eachother in a wine barrell, with branches of bayleaves added and then the legs are covered with plastic and left for a couple of weeks, with turning and re-stacking.
Once the legs have been left to sit in the salt for a couple of weeks and are sufficiently dried out, they will be hung in a well-ventilated fridge for up to 18 months…so in 18 months time I will let you know how it tastes!