Prosciutto di Parma DOP is a real institution in Italian gastronomy’s field, representing the apex of an ancient tradition.
A skilful processing’s result, whose techniques are handed down over the generations, today Prosciutto di Parma DOP is included in a strict discipline to keep the product pure.
Excellent if it is enjoyed alone, this food can enhance several preparations in the kitchen, thanks to its unique flavour and great nutritional profile.
Why is this cured meat called Prosciutto di Parma DOP?
To be called Prosciutto di Parma DOP, this cured meat must have some identifying elements, which protect the consumer’s choice, the product’s quality and the adherence to a production process that is a centuries-old tradition in the Parma’s area.
Legs of suitable pigs are marked with a code relating to the breeder and its month of birth. At the slaughter’s time, the leg is checked and marked with the initials PP. At the curing’s beginning, the Consortium affixes a metal seal with the words CPP (Consortium Prosciutto di Parma), the process’ starting date.
After about a year of curing, the Consortium determines whether a ham fulfils the high standards to boast the official certification mark, the five-pointed ducal crown of Parma.
An expert appointed by the Consortium uses a special horse bone to pierce the ham in several places. The goal is to cut out a small part and smell it before it dissipates.
After checking that all markings are there and that the ham passes the test, it can be marked with the five-pointed crown. Even the prosciutto that is sold already sliced can only be packaged in the Parma area under the inspectors’ supervision.
When this product respects all these parameters, it can be defined as a truly genuine Prosciutto di Parma DOP.
How much does it cost, and what is the best Prosciutto di Parma DOP?
The process required to obtain a real Prosciutto di Parma DOP is particularly complex. Therefore, it is not surprising that the price also reflects this aspect.
For a consumer who approaches the product’s purchase, the raw material’s cost is also an excellent indicator of its genuineness.
A Prosciutto di Parma DOP cannot cost on average less than 27€ per kilo, although it can cost up to 10€ more, depending on the retailer and another type of variables.
When we find a much cheaper product, it is reasonable to be wary. For this reason, it is important to consider the elements seen in the previous paragraph.
The real and best Prosciutto di Parma DOP is the one that can boast the five-pointed crown applied by the Consortium. This latter also identifies the company that carries out the processing and has a high value because it ensures the true and unique Prosciutto di Parma DOP’s authenticity.
Precisely in the rigorous checks and evaluation tests necessary to obtain the Ducal crown, there are the reasons behind a conscious purchase. Prosciutto di Parma does not require preservatives or additives’ use, and its flavour results from a natural process.
In addition to the best pigs’ legs and salt, the most important factors are those linked to the Parma hills’ territory, an area where only a few producers can obtain this extraordinary food.
What are this product’s nutritional values and uses in the kitchen?
What makes Prosciutto di Parma DOP so special is the delicate and, at the same time, intense flavour, the soft texture and the balance between salty and sweet.
Moreover, with the skilful craftsmanship and the unique taste, there are other reasons to indulge in this excellent product or its nutritional profile without issues.
Prosciutto di Parma DOP has an energy value of 269 calories per 100 g. The water content amounts to over 50%, while the remaining half is divided between proteins (25.9%), lipids (18.9%) and carbohydrates, with only 0.3%.
Ham contains many mineral salts that are easily assimilated by the body. It is rich in vitamins that are precious for our health, such as B1, B6, B12, PP, and essential elements in the daily diet such as phosphorus, zinc, iron and selenium.
It is a food suitable not only for children, thanks to its high digestibility, but also for athletes and the elderly, for the high-quality protein content. Branched-chain amino acids, including valine, leucine and isoleucine, which form more than 20% of the total protein share, help repair muscle damage. In addition, it boasts nearly twice the unsaturated fat than saturated one.
As will be seen in the following paragraphs, Prosciutto di Parma DOP is widely used in several preparations, thanks to its enviable nutritional profile. It is consumed raw to preserve its nutritional values and characteristics like consistency and cooked or slightly heated.
Let’s see below three traditional Italian recipes.
Tortellini with Prosciutto di Parma DOP: the triumph of flavours
Tortellini are small chests with fresh pasta containing a filling of raw ham that plays a fundamental role. Thanks to its natural flavour, the filling becomes particularly balanced.
Along with Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, the raw ham dampens the mortadella and pork loin’s sweetness.
In order to prepare the tortellini, it is necessary first to take care of the filling since it must rest at least one night in the fridge. Both in thick slices of 100 g, the ham and mortadella are cut into coarse pieces and passed through the mincer with the loin.
Once the meat has been minced, we need to add the grated Parmigiano Reggiano and pinches of salt, pepper and grated nutmeg. The traditional Bolognese recipe includes a higher amount of nutmeg, but it is possible to reduce it according to your preferences.
The mixture is kneaded with your hands and then passed through the meat grinder again to obtain a more precise result. At this point, you can pour everything into a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator so that all the flavours blend.
After this time, we need to prepare the pasta, with the ratio of one egg per 100 g of flour. Arrange the flour in the classic shape of a fountain and pour the lightly beaten eggs in the centre, mix the ingredients with a fork, and then knead by hand until it reaches an elastic consistency.
It is necessary to let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before rolling out, with the help of a rolling pin in a very thin sheet, from which many small squares of about one centimetre on each side will be obtained, in the centre of which a tip of filling will be inserted.
All that remains is to close the tortellini, giving them the classic shape and boil them in broth or season them as you prefer.
Piadina with rocket, soft cheese and Prosciutto di Parma DOP
Undoubtedly, the simplest dish among those examined, the piadina with raw ham, rocket and stracchino, is one of the best-known versions of the Romagna’s Riviera speciality.
Moving a few hundred kilometres from Parma, in the same region, the natural flavour of raw ham is exploited to give a unique touch to this delicious dish.
To prepare it, you need to choose high-quality wraps or take care of their preparation in person.
Once the piadina is obtained, you can concentrate directly on the assembly by toasting it in a pan with no fat added.
After thirty seconds, turn the other side to soften the flatbread evenly. At this point, spread half of the stracchino cheese available on half a piadina and let it cook for about a minute.
Then, remove the piadina from the pan, transfer it to a cutting board, and then add plenty of raw ham and rocket. It is possible to complete the preparation by enriching it with ingredients that go well with those already provided in the recipe.
Toasted almonds are a great classic, for example, which should be added before the raw ham to make them adhere to the stracchino cheese.
Saltimbocca alla romana with Prosciutto di Parma DOP
Although Prosciutto di Parma DOP is widely used, as is the case for many Italian preparations, within the typical recipes of the original region, its sensory characteristics are so extraordinary that they had influenced the other typical gastronomy expressions all over Italian territories.
Saltimbocca alla romana is one of the best-known dishes of the capital’s cuisine. Their spread even beyond the borders is due to the simplicity of preparation and the perfect balance of flavours.
First, you need to cut a veal nut (about 300 grams for four people) into slices, beaten with a meat mallet and inspected to remove any nerves.
Once the perfect piece of meat is obtained, a thin slice of raw ham and a sage leaf are placed in the centre, tying everything together with a small toothpick so that the meat and filling remain well sealed. In a pan, we will proceed to heat the butter and oil by melting everything.
Meanwhile, the slices of meat will only be floured on one side and placed in the pan with the hot sauce. By increasing the temperature, you will be sure that the slices will be perfectly golden. At this point, you can blend with the white wine and let it evaporate.
Now it’s time to prepare the delicious accompanying sauce. To do this, you need to transfer the saltimbocca to a plate and keep them warm. While in the same pan with the cooking juices, add 10 grams of butter and a little water, allowing it to shrink until it forms a thick cream.
All that remains is to serve them and enjoy.
Conclusion on Prosciutto di Parma DOP
Prosciutto di Parma DOP is one of the most renowned excellences of Italian gastronomy. Thanks to a manufacturing process rich in skilful and respectful gestures, it can be considered a true symbol of Made in Italy.
Due to the recent Consortium’s introductions, which aim to preserve all the elements that make this food so unique and protect the consumer, each size must be traceable.
In this way, when you get ready to taste a slice of this delicious cured meat, you can be sure that you are in front of the real Prosciutto di Parma DOP.