The versatility of Prosciutto

The versatility of Prosciutto

by Nick Beck 20 May 2014

Parma ham is an ingredient recognised all over the world and a very popular addition to an antipasto. Often wrapped around a grissini it's seen as the signature accompaniment to melon. Many classic Italian dishes use the 2 year aged meat in pasta sauces, wrapped around meat or fish or as a pizza topping – but have you ever thought of using it in a dessert?

Despite living in central London, Nick is a keen outdoors person who loves rustic, simple cooking.

Despite living in central London, Nick is a keen outdoors person who loves rustic, simple cooking. Both meat and fish are equally important in his diet and he loves to cook with seasonal ingredients. Nick's blog is a no nonsense approach to food where any eating occasion should occur with great people and smiles all round!

I attended the Underground Cookery School in Central London for a Parma Ham Master Class hosted by the Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma and under the watchful eye of head chef Carlos Toban.

The selection of canapés immediately demonstrated the breadth at which Prosciutto can be used in cooking; from on its own with olive oil & cracked black pepper to wrapped around pear or with Parmigiano Reggiano crisps to a Parma Ham tortilla (my favourite).

To begin with we made the pasta that would be used for the Tagliatelle with White Truffle Dressing, topped with twirls of freshly sliced Parma Ham and Parmigiano Reggiano – a classic combination of cheese and ham from the same region (Emilia Romagna).

This was followed by some basic butchery of a chicken where the breasts were removed and butterflied in order to create chicken wrapped in Parma Ham, stuffed with a Tarragon and Cream Cheese filling on top of a bed of New Potatoes, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Spring Onion.

Tagliatelle with White Truffle Dressing
Tagliatelle with white truffle dressing
Roulade with slices of Candied Parma Ham
Roulade with slices of candied Parma ham

Finally we prepared the dessert, a Meringue Roulade with a difference. It is not often you have meat in all 3 courses and this is certainly something I would not object too! Candied Parma Ham slices accompanied the Roulade. Hard to imagine, but it worked perfectly.

As a group we likened this to salted caramel in a dessert but it had a much longer flavour that remained although was never overpowering and accompanied the Roulade beautifully. It was certainly a very interesting and unexpected contrast to how you would expect to cook and eat Parma Ham.