What is prosciutto?

Prosciutto is a sweet, delicate ham. The word is the Italian for ham, but it is widely used to describe various seasoned and cured air-dried hams. True prosciutto comes from Italy, but other versions are now produced elsewhere.

'Prosciutto cotto' is cooked and 'prosciutto crudo' is raw, air-dried pork (although safe and ready to eat thanks to the curing process). Italian prosciuttos are labelled 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 at least eight months and up to two years.

How to prepare prosciutto

Prosciutto can be eaten as is on a charcuterie board with cheese and bread, but it can also be mixed through pasta or risotto. Add it at the last minute as lengthy cooking will toughen it and destroy the delicate flavour.

It can also be grilled briefly to create prosciutto crisps that can be crumbled over salads or pasta dishes.

How to cook prosciutto

For a classic, no-fuss Italian starter, drape slices of prosciutto over quarters of juicy melon.

Watch our video for a great dinner party recipe of beef wellington wrapped in prosciutto:

How to store prosciutto

Keep in the fridge and consume by the use-by date. Once opened, eat within two days.

Choose the best prosciutto

In supermarkets, prosciutto comes pre-prepared in thin (almost transparent) slices. However, delis will cut fresh slices from the leg to the desired thickness.

Alternatives to prosciutto

Try pancetta or ham.