How to master the skill of slicing prosciutto by hand.
Karst prosciutto (‘kraški pršut’ in Slovene) features in many parties, celebrations, and food events in Slovenia. It’s also a popular starter in any typical Slovenian dinner. That’s no wonder, as it’s highly prized by gourmets, and is a symbol of the Karst region’s rich gastronomic heritage.
If you’ve obtained one of those juicy prosciutto legs to serve to your guests, or are simply enjoying this tasty air-dried ham on your own at home, you definitely have to slice it skillfully to get the most out of it.
I’ll let you in on the secrets of hand-slicing prosciutto. Just have a steady stand and carving utensils at the ready.
Hand-Slicing Prosciutto: Preserving Aroma & Texture
Hand-slicing wins over machine-cutting by far as prosciutto slices cut by a knife follow the natural disposition of the meat fibers in the ham. This makes the meat far more tender while preserving its mouth-watering aroma and mature flavour. The irregularity of the cut when using a knife also adds to the various textures that the palate can detect on eating the prosciutto.
What Do You Need to Slice Prosciutto?
Get started by equipping yourself with a carving stand, cutting board, a sturdy short-bladed knife for removing the rind, a sharp long-bladed slicing knife, and a carving fork. The long-bladed slicing knife should also be wide and thick, with a moderate flexibility to adapt to the uneven shape of the prosciutto leg.
How to Start Slicing Prosciutto
First, poke the rind (thick outer skin) to verify the quality of the ham via its aroma. If it smells fine, you’re good to go. Begin by removing the rind to expose the meat, but only remove as much of the rind as is necessary to preserve the rest of the ham. The trick is to cut the rind progressively as you carve the meat.
Then, use the short knife to remove the ‘stucco’, which is the protective lard mixture applied to the prosciutto at the end of maturation to protect those areas that the rind doesn’t cover. Once done, cut away the haunch bone—the visible part of the hip bone where the rind doesn’t cover the ham. Then, secure the bone into the carving stand, with the already-cut part facing upwards.
The Art of hand Cutting Prosciutto
Here’s how you must carve your meat: Take the long-bladed knife in one hand and the carving fork in the other. Then, slice the ham evenly with a slight ‘sawing’ movement, using the entire length of the knife blade. Stay light with your cutting hand so as not to cut overly thick slices. The thinner the slices the more tender the meat feels in the mouth.
Once you get to the bone at the centre of the thigh, turn the prosciutto leg over to continue carving the other side.
Slovenian Dinner Experience: The Karst Way
With this concise manual in hand, it’s time to bring out that leg and start slicing away. You can now enrich your Slovenian dinner experience and really pamper your guests, just like a typical Kraševec (or Karst local). Happy slicing!
Written by: Denise Rejec