Hamming it up
Parma Ham. Two words which, to me, sum up one of life’s ultimate hedonistic indulgences. This simple product is just pork, salt, and time. It has the most delicate flavour and a perfect balance of umami. Prosciutto di Parma is a PDO (an EU recognised Protected Designation of Origin), and the ducal crown on the packaging guarantees its authenticity.
The UK market for Parma ham generated a €32 million revenue with 17,540,000 pre-sliced packs sold – this is the largest amount of pre-sliced packs of ham sold anywhere in the world! The drying process that Parma Ham goes through creates a ham that is very low in fat content, with many mineral salts, vitamins, antioxidants, and easily digestible proteins. To be honest I love it just as is, with a glass of ice-cold wine, but our Italian friends often enjoy as an ‘aperitivo’, to whet the appetite before a meal.
The other evening I was invited to a lovely dinner at Petersham Nurseries Café in Covent Garden where we dined on a superb meal, with Parma Ham used in every course, including the dessert – an unusual - and surprisingly delicious - Parma Ham and maple ripple ice cream. It encouraged me to give you a selection of suggestions for crostini using Parma Ham – you can play around with your own combinations and also cut the carbs by just skewering a mix of different nibbles together onto a cocktail skewer.
Parma Ham Crostini An Italian appetiser of grilled bread served with:
Prosciutto di Parma, mint, figs, walnuts and goat's cheese
Prosciutto di Parma, artichoke, tomatoes, and mozzarella
INGREDIENTS: For the crostini:
2 Loaves of ciabatta
1 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
Small pinch, Sea salt flakes
Small pinch, Black Pepper
For the toppings:
4 figs, sliced into eighths.
10 cherry tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
30g artichoke hearts in olive oil, quartered
100g mini mozzarella balls
25g walnut halves
100g goat's cheese
- Slice the ciabatta into ½ inch thick crostini.
- Mix a tbsp of oil, salt, and pepper into a bowl. Add the 12 ciabatta slices to the bowl, cover with clingfilm and shake until evenly coated.
- Lay the crostini on the baking tray so they are not touching.
- Place the figs onto a separate baking tray with cherry tomatoes and drizzle with a little olive oil.
- Place the bread, figs, and tomatoes in the oven. Remove the figs and tomatoes after 10 minutes. After a further 8 minutes, and once golden brown, remove the crostini.
- To decorate the crostini, add the toppings in small amounts and make them uniform. You may want to burst the cherry tomatoes open as you rub them over the ciabatta so the flavour covers the slices.
- Once the main ingredients have been added, drizzle a little extra olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt flakes.
- Finish by adding the Parma Ham in a little twist.