Wondering what to serve on your next cheese platter or charcuterie board? We would argue that delectable Prosciutto di Parma should be your first choice. Unfortunately, most of the generic prosciutto you find in the grocery store bears no resemblance to the real thing that's crafted in Italy. The real deal has a delightful nutty flavour and melt-in-your-mouth texture thanks to a time-honoured craft.
True Prosciutto di Parma can only be made from pigs raised within 10 permissible regions of central-northern Italy, which are fed a special diet that includes the whey from Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese production. Free from preservatives, Prosciutto di Parma is made with just three ingredients – pork, salt and time. To make sure what you're buying is real Prosciutto di Parma, look for a D.O.P. logo on the label, which stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta (Protected Designation of Origin), an EU certification. We also encourage you to taste more salumi from the rest of Italy. There are hundreds of kinds, but here are a few to add to your next charcuterie board:
That doesn't sound too Italian, does it? That's because it's from the Alto Adige region, which is right on the border with Austria, where happily, there is some cultural give and take. This ham starts with raw pork legs that are smoked for 10 days over beech, juniper or ash wood, then aged. Enjoy thinly sliced or cooked in recipes.
This dry-cured beef-leg salumi is uniquely flavoured with salt, pepper, garlic, cinnamon, bay, and cloves. It's made in several areas, but only Bresaola produced in the province of Sondrio can bear the I.G.P. label, which stands for Indicazione Geografica Protetta (Indication of Geographical Protection). It's ruby red, lean, and aromatic. Enjoy thinly sliced.
Made from the belly of the pig, pancetta is similar to bacon in its fat-to-meat ratio, but there are several different kinds, crafted in different regions: it may or may not be smoked; it can be square, flat, or round; it can be skinless or have a skin. Spicing varies by region, too, but look for notes of garlic, fennel seed, cloves, and pepper. Nota Bene: only Pancetta Piacentina and Pancetta di Calabria have been awarded D.O.P. status. Enjoy thinly sliced or cooked in recipes.
Now, about that whole baloney misunderstanding: baloney is American; Mortadella is a uniformly pink, cylindrical salumi crafted from finely minced pork, made silky and delicious with cubes of lardon (pure pork fat) and meant for slicing thinly for sandwiches or charcuterie platters. The best of the best – Mortadella Bologna I.G.P. – comes from, you guessed it, the Bologna region in the north and is seasoned with myrtle berries, pepper, pistachio nuts.
For more Made in Italy articles, recipes, chef profiles and cooking tips, check out our blog, A Taste of Made in Italy