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Prosciutto

Nine months`ago, I began curing my prosciutto. I used a boneless,
skinless (mistake!) fresh ham.
I proceeded thusly: I weighed the ham and mixed a dry cure at
the following rate per pound; salt-30 grams, Prague powder #2-1.5
grams, dextrose-15 grams, black pepper-3 grams. I applied 2/3 of
the cure mix and reserved one third of the cure for later use.

I put the ham in the cooler at 36 F for 5 days (allowing the brine
to drain away). After 5 days I rubbed on the reserved cure and
put the ham back into the cooler at 36 F and relative humidity 80%,
where it remained 21 days. After 21 days, I nudged the cooler temp
up to 40 and kept the r.h. at 75% and let it go for 60 days.

At this point, the ham was given its first wash to remove mold and
any excess salt. I then hung it at room temp and after the surface
was well dried, I covered the exposed lean meat with a mixture of
pork and beef fat w/ some black pepper.

For the next 190 days, the ham hung in the basement where the temp
remained in the 60 to 70 F range and the r.h. was in the required
70 to 80% range. After this, the ham was ready for its final wash
to de-mold it again.

I was pleased with the texture and the appearance of this prosciutto.
The razor sharp 12-inch knife on my slicer shaved tissue-thin slices
with ease. The color is a beautiful deep red and it looks just
like prosciutto from Italy but, unfortunately, it doesn't taste
like it. It doesn't have that characteristic sweet, mellow flavor
of proscuitto di Parma. Instead, it has a distinct bitter aftertaste.
It is quite edible and will be excellent in cooking, but it is not
a gourmet class ham like I had hoped for. I know part of the
problem resulted from using a boneless and skinless ham and I have,
since last November learned that I need to start with a bone-in
and skin-on ham that is free of nicks and bruises.

I hope that next May I can feel like I have achieved success. I
better get started on my next one- nine months is a long time to
wait!

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