A natural and lacking in preservatives food, tasteful and easily digestible, Prosciutto di San Daniele. Its taste marries delicacy, softness and elegance, so that it seems that it melts in the mouth. Made in the valleys of Friuli Venezia Giulia, where the fresh air from mountains meets the humid one of the Adriatic land.
History and curiosities
The history of Prosciutto di San Daniele is linked to the territory in which it is produced since ages. Some archeological finds in the area of San Daniele seems to confirm that already in the Eighth Century B.C. pork’s cold cuts were regularly consumed.
In the Middle Age appeared the techniques of breeding, creating good cold cuts, and pork meat represented the main product in the life and the customs in Friuli. This region started to create even a commerce, and in the text of Renaissance “De Conservanda Sanitate” of 1453, it is written that pork’s lean meat was conserved with salt as a good and digestible food.
In the age of the Counter-Reformation, whose center was the Northern Italy, during the Council of Trento, prelates meets to eat 30 portions of “parsutti”, which were brought in Trento exactly from San Daniele, as a gift from the Patriarca di Aquileia.
It was 1563 and since then the production, the trading and consume of this product are a distinctive aspect of this region, a feature that makes Friuli famous even foreign. We know, for example, that ham was appreciated even in Europe, as Vienna or France.
Prosciutto di San Daniele has a quality legally recognized since 1970 and controlled by the Regulation. This document embraces the entire productive process, guaranteeing consumers an excellent final product.
Production and Regulation
Prosciutto di San Daniele belongs to the category of aged hams. In Europe, the Protected Designation of Origin controls it since 1996. San Daniele ham is made now by 31 factories in the homonymous town of San Daniele del Friuli, in the province of Udine.
The environmental features of this area make this product unique in its category, with the delicate seasoning and the inimitable aroma. Besides the town of San Daniele, it can be made even in Ragogna, Rive d’Arcano, Fagagna, Coseano, Forgaria nel Friuli and Dignano.
The main productive processes are the following. Pork’s thighs are selected with a conformity control, conserved at a quite low temperature, at least 3°C, in order to make meat more compact before the trimming.
After 48 hours, thighs are covered with sea salt, and the duration of salting must go on depending on the thigh’s weigh. This operation is important, because it allows a better conservation of the product and gives it a delicate and particular taste. Thighs are pressed and then seasoned.
They are left to stand in a specific room with the 80% humidity and at a temperature of a maximum of 6°C. therefore, they are washed with lukewarm water, to make them more compact and starting the seasoning process in the right way, for at least 13 months.
After that there is “sugnatura”, which means that the thigh is massaged with “sugna”, a mixture of fat and grain or rice flour, to avoid an excessive drying of meat. Hams are then beaten during seasoning and they are controlled, putting a horse bone in specific parts of meat and smelling them.
The Consortium mark, with the code of the manufacturer, is branded only on products with the features indicated by the Regulation.
Ham can be put in the market whole or cut in thin or thick slices. The label must show the terms “Prosciutto di San Daniele” and “Protected Designation of Origin”, the date of production, the symbol on the rind, while boxes must present even the graphical reproduction of the symbol and the numeric code of the packager.
Taste and characteristics
Prosciutto di San Daniele has a guitar shape with the distal part, which is called “little foot”. It can weigh until 10 kg. Meat is soft but compact, with the white, fat portion perfectly equilibrated with the red, lean part.
The color is homogeneous, red or reddish for the lean meat. The white of fat is homogeneous, but candid. Its scent is particular, and can assume different shades depending on the seasoning period.
It is soft by the slice. The taste is delicate, thanks to the natural additives used to make it, as sea salt. The humidity should not pass the 63%, but it should be less than 57%.
To realize Prosciutto di San Daniele, the Regulation requires some rules that go from the choice of pigs, their feeding, to the geographical area in which occur all the processes of working and seasoning. All the processes must take place in the indicated geographical area.
The taste of San Daniele ham is sweet, but equilibrated. The texture of slices is particularly soft. It is a tasteful ham, which can be eaten alone or with a slice of bread, or combined with other ingredients to create traditional or creative dishes.
You can find it in many appetizers, cut in slices, with some cheeses, as aged Montasio or Mozzarella cheese. It can be also used to realize some first dishes, as pasta with ham and Taleggio.
For what concerns the combination with wines, Prosciutto di San Daniele can be served with red wines, as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, because the product is particularly sweet and delicate, not too salty and spicy, or white wines, as Malvasia Istriana.