Italy Day 8: prosciutto porn

Above: Brigitte Bardot probably wouldn’t approve but Céline Dijon posed with the prosciutti at my friend Marco Fantinel’s prosciuttificio in San Daniele del Friuli.

My trotter shots may not be as hot as the one posted the other day by Alice, the pork Picassos often published by Winnie, the ones found in harangues on ham by Eric, or the onslaught of slaughtered swine over at the amazing blog Culatello. But I can’t resist publishing these photos, taken in April when our band Nous Non Plus stopped for a visit at my friend Marco Fantinel’s prosciuttificio, Testa e Molinaro in San Daniele del Friuli, on our way back into Italy following our Slovenian appearances.

Not as sweet as its cousin down in Parma or as smoky as the Speck found in South Tyrol, Prosciutto di San Daniele has a distinctive slightly more piquant flavor that sets it apart in the pork realm and it is distinguished by the presence of the bone and hoof, traditionally not removed in San Daniele. Of all of Italy’s cured pig thighs (remember Prosciutto di Carpegna and Prosciutto Toscano, and there are many others as well), Prosciutto di San Daniele is arguably the most terroir-driven of the bunch. As for all prosciutti, naturally occurring enzymes “ferment” the pig thigh from within, trigged by changes in temperature. But in the case of Prosciutto di San Daniele, gentle sea breeze from the nearby Adriatic will cause the flavor profile of the prosciutto to vary with each “vintage,” making it more sweet or spicy depending on the timing of warmer and cooler weather. Pig thighs, salt, and terroir: these are the only three ingredients in Prosciutto di San Daniele, according to the lab-coat technicians who oversee the wondrous transformation of pig flesh into delicate prosciutto.

Above: Salting the pig thighs with coarse salt.

Above: The different aging rooms at the prosciuttificio simulate the changes in the seasons but the last phase of the process requires the naturally occurring breeze. The technicians literally open the windows and let Nature do her work.

Above: Following our visit to the prosciuttificio, Marco treated the band to lunch, including an obligatory antipasto of perfectly sliced Prosciutto di San Daniele.

Above: The show stopper at lunch was gnocchi dressed in Montasio cheese and prosciutto, served in a nest of fried Montasio (a frico) and paired with Marco’s excellent Tazzelenghe, an indigenous grape of Friuli — tannic, powerful, and fantastic with the rich dish.

7 Responses to Italy Day 8: prosciutto porn

  1. Joe Manekin says:

    Wow, that really is some prosciutto porn! Gnocchi served over the frico looks ridiculously good. You should definitely consult with bands and teach them how they need to be touring.

  2. Sonadora says:

    That lunch looks absolutely to die for fabulous. I’m drooling looking at it.

  3. adrian says:

    I remember being inside the Pio Tosini prosciuttoficio in Langhirano, and being inside a room the size of an aircraft hanger with 50,000 curing prosciutti, and then with my jaw dropping, being told there was another curing room next door with 50,000 more. The smell was not to be believed, but definitely then I realized Prosciutto di Parma, while prized, is an industrial product. I don’t believe San Daniele is produced on the same scale but it still is big business (especially if you saw their very visible sponsorship of Salone del Gusto 2006). Most of the pigs for Parma prosciutto are standard “large white” and while visiting a particular pig breeder in the Bassa Parmense, I read the ingredients on the side of a feed bag…GMO grain (can’t remember if corn or soy) from Iowa. It’s something to chew on while chewing on your next slice of prosciutto…what did this beautiful animal eat before becoming a cold cut. The true cured meat artisans are the culatello makers of Zibello and Polesine Parmense, who only use free ranging pigs.

  4. tracie b says:

    i went to san daniele in feb ’06 for my foodie pellegrinaggio…i thought i knew how good prosc san dan was, until i tasted it there. seriously, they keep the best stuff for themselves. it was tender and briny and floral and nutty–mamma mia! oh and the frico, i’m still digesting it.

    totally worth it.

    i didn’t get to try the tazzelenghe, never found it by the glass (i tried!), but we made it through all of the other autoctoni in one hazy afternoon in some little wine bar in the borgo. thanks for the pics!

  5. David McDuff says:

    That gnocchi looks drop dead delicious, Jeremy. Great idea, serving it a frico. Cool post.

  6. Terry Hughes says:

    i was in s. dano a few days ago. couldn’t get over the DEGUSTAZIONE signs for prosciutto.

    Nah, I wasn’t in the mood.

  7. Simona says:

    San Daniele is my favorite prosciutto. Great photos!

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