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Pietro Borghesi, co-founder of La Spiga, cuts into the Proscuitto di Parma. This pig thigh had been hanging for two and half years. Each piece is hand cut, so it is a tedious process but would lose flavor if cut through a meat slicer. (Image: Sy Bean / Seattle Refined).
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We just got schooled in the world of Prosciutto di Parma

Ahhh, the wonderful world of prosciutto.

If you haven’t tried it, you are probably living under a rock somewhere and if you don’t particularly like it - well that’s a whole other way of living I will never understand.

Prosciutto is the part of a pig thigh that is thinly sliced and has that buttery smooth texture with the wicked flavor (as you can tell I really know my food flavor profiles) and saltiness that could float a boat - in a good way.

So let’s talk about why I have you here.

We were invited to a Prosciutto Party (not the official title) at the beautiful and wonderful Italian restaurant on the hill, Osteria La Spiga, where we were educated on the ins and outs, the dos and don’ts of the magic that is Prosciutto.

Going into the evening, the only thing I knew about the ham was that it is out of control delicious. What I wasn't expecting was how prosciutto ham is quite the art form.

The life cycle of prosciutto is similar to the life of wine. The birth and life of the grapes are the most important part - the soil, the air, the elements. With prosciutto you are kind of looking at the same thing.

It takes three things to make prosciutto tick: a nine month pig harvest (the pig obviously is fed the best organic foods and is treated extremely well), salt and air. It’s the air that sets Prosciutto di Parma ham apart from other ham products.

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Prosciutto is the product, but where it’s from - that’s where the real food and flavor is developed. Prosciutto di Parma, is just that - ham from Parma, Italy. According to the ham experts and educators, what makes Prosciutto di Parma so great is that ~effervescent~ Parma air.

And where is Parma you ask? Parma is located in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region which is famed for Parmesan cheese and Parma ham.

Emilia-Romagna region is compiled of Piacenza, Parma, Reggio Emila, Modena, Bologna, Ferrara, Ravenna, Forli-Cesena, and Rimini. This part of Italy is described as a food lover’s paradise and was named in Forbes as “Italy’s Greatest Gastronomic Treasure.” This is also the only area in Italy that Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is produced and it holds the exclusive legal title to its name.

Which is why the perfect place to learn about prosciutto was at Osteria La Spiga which focuses on cuisine from this specific area of Italy - Emilia-Romagna.

With a little help from the executive chef, Sabrina Tinsley we got our hands dirty making some pasta, learned about the delectable ham, some different recipes, and were spoiled with meals inspired by Prosciutto di Parma.

Here’s how it went down and hopefully this will inspire you to try new recipes and try to cook with prosciutto.

Benvenuto

Proscutto Crudo e Gnocco Fritto: Side by side tasting of bone in versus boneless prosciutto of various ages served with gnocco fritto.

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We began with tasting the Proscuitto di Parma right off of the ham thigh. After two and a half years, Pietro Borghesi of La Spiga, finally cut into the thigh and showed us the delicate art form of slicing the ham. It looks tedious, slice by slice, but the final product is absolutely worth it. The thigh is preserved in salt and is hung by the thigh bone exposing itself to the beautiful Parma air.

Antipasto

Antipasto Emiliano - Prosciutto di parma pinwheels with Parmigiano Reggiano, balsamic vinegar, arugula and radicchio.

Next up - these parma pin wheels were maybe my favorite part of the whole meal. The arugula, cheese and radicchio were wrapped up in the Parma ham and served with crostini. Not only was the ham delish, but the arugula added an incredible fresh flavor.

Primo

Cappalletti con Fonduta di Parmigiano - Prosciutto filled cappalletti with Parmigiano fonduta and balsamic pearls.

The third course was our very own hand made noodles, or cappalletti, with prosciutto, Parmesan and ricotta cheese. It was topped with this insane broth and balsamic pearls. The balsamic pearls were an incredible addition. The only way I can describe them is like little boba balls filled with balsamic reduction that explode in your mouth. ME LIKEY. Little balls of heaven, for sure.

Dolce

Crem Caramel con Prosciutto Croccante - Caramel flan with crispy prosciutto.

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Lastly we were treated to a delicious dessert of caramel flan with a crispy prosciutto flake and and crumbled prosciutto on the bottom. The perfect mix of sweet and savory!

If this doesn’t inspire you to cook more with prosciutto then I don’t know what will!

Get your reservations at La Spiga, and treat yo'self.

Learn more about Prosciutto di Parma here:


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