Prosciutto is sweet, delicate ham intended to be eaten raw. The word 'prosciutto' is the Italian for ham, but is widely used to describe seasoned, cured, air-dried ham. True prosciutto comes from Italy, but versions are now produced elsewhere.
'Prosciutto cotto' is cooked and 'prosciutto crudo' is raw (although safe and ready to eat thanks to the curing process). Italian prosciuttos are labeled according to their city or province of origin. The most famous is 'prosciutto di Parma' or Parma ham, which is salted and air-dried for 8 to 24 months.
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In supermarkets prosciutto comes pre-prepared in thin, almost transparent, slices. However, delis will cut fresh slices from the leg at the desired thickness.
Prosciutto is usually eaten raw, but can be added to pasta or risotto. Add it at the last minute as lengthy cooking will toughen it and destroy the delicate flavour.
Keep in the fridge and consume by the use by date. Once opened eat within two days.
For a classic no-fuss Italian starter, drape slices of prosciutto over quarter of a juicy melon - and that's it.
Also watch our video for a great dinner party recipe of beef Wellington wrapped in prosciutto:
Try pancetta or ham.