With a full-bodied flavor and a creamy, melt-in-your-mouth texture, prosciutto enhances appetizers, pasta dishes, salads and sandwiches. The paper-thin slices are best served at room temperature.

Italian for "ham," prosciutto is a term used to describe a pork cut that has been seasoned, salt-cured and air-dried, but not smoked. While domestic prosciutto is now made in the United States, ham from the little village of Langhirano in Italy's northern province of Parma is considered to be the true prosciutto.

Known as prosciutto di Parma, this superior ham is made from pigs on a special diet of chestnuts and whey. With a rosy-brown color, velvety texture and salty-sweet flavor, prosciutto is usually thinly sliced and eaten as an appetizer, but it can be used in cooked dishes as well.


Italian prosciuttos are all labeled according to their cities of origin, such as prosciutto di Modena or prosciutto di Veneto, with each city producing hams of slightly different colors, textures and flavors. Italian hams are also designated as prosciutto crudo, raw ham that is cured and ready to eat, or prosciutto cotto, which is cooked.

Buying Tips

Prosciutto is available in some supermarkets, but high-quality hams are more likely to be found in gourmet and Italian markets. Look for moist, golden-pink prosciutto bordered by white fat. Buy sliced prosciutto only as needed as it tends to dry out quickly.

Storage Tips

Tightly wrap sliced prosciutto and refrigerate for up to three weeks.

Usage Tips

• Serve prosciutto as is, accompanied by crusty country bread and Italian cheeses.

• Wrap pieces around melon slices, figs, breadsticks or a trio of cooked asparagus spears.

• Make a prosciutto salad with radicchio and shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

• Stir strips or chunks into pastas and risottos at the last minute (prolonged cooking will make it tough).

• Pair prosciutto with a dry, white wine.

Try one of our favorite prosciutto recipes:
Prosciutto Gorgonzola Risotto
Prosciutto and Gruyere Stromboli
Gigot de Mer (Whole Roast Monkfish)