Today we are making Italian ham, Prosciutto!! Making prosciutto at home is actually quite easy. You only need salt, a drying place, and a TON of patience!! A typical prosciutto will take roughly 400 days from start to finish. You can let it go longer (if oyu want) for a more complex pork flavor. In the video below we let ours dry for a total of 2 years and it was well worth it!!
When it comes to curing your meat there are several ways you can make this happen. One particular way that I especially like is the equilibrium method. This involves adding a specific amount of salt and letting it penetrate into the meat. The issue here is the size of our hind leg. They are usually too large for equilibrium curing so we will be using the “excess salt” method otherwise known as the “salt box” method. This method is a lot less precise but still delivers amazing results. The trick to “Salt Boxing” your meat is to not overdo it. A general rule of thumb is to let the meat cure in the salt for 1 day per kilo of meat. I’ve gone so far as to do 2 days per kilo of meat, and it was still fine. So anywhere in that range is ok.
Have fun with this recipe and in a year or 18 months I’d love to hear how it turned out for you😉
Get a fresh pork hind leg from your butcher (leave the trotter intact if possible)
find the femoral artery and with your thumb, start close to the trotter and push the artery all the way to the top of the leg (close to the hip bone). Do this several times to remove any excess blood.
Trim the hind leg to form the shape of your prosciutto. Now weigh the leg.
In a bin that's large enough to hold your hind leg, add a layer of salt at the bottom. Also coat the top of the hind leg with salt as well. If you are going to add pepper or garlic, now is a good time to do that. This is a semi "salt pack". So it doesn't need to be completely covered in salt but a generous amount needs to be added to the bottom and top. If the hock is exposed, you will need to pack that area full of salt and you will also pack the hip joint full of salt as well.
place this bin in your refrigerator and cover with something heavy (I used a 50-pound bucket to weigh my leg down, but you don't need something that heavy. A 25-pound weight works great for this) The weight helps to expel excess moisture.
After 3-4 days flip the hind leg over, coat with more salt, and place a weight on top again. (As a side note, I like to place a trash bag over the hind leg to help lock in moisture, then I'll place a cutting board on the hind leg, then I'll add my weight) When it comes to the weight, I personally like to add 2x the weight of the leg. So, if my leg weighs 12 pounds I'll add 24 pounds of weight – just an fyi
After a week has passed, remove the bin from the refrigerator and pour out any liquid that has accumulated. Flip the hind leg over, resalt, cover with the trash bag, place in your refrigerator with a weigh on the top.
After another week has passed repeat the process once again until your hind leg has been properly cured.
When it comes to salt curing your hind leg you will let the pork sit in salt (with a weight on it) for 1 day per kilo. So, if your pork leg weighs 10 kilos you will let it salt cure for 10 days. This isn't an exact science and takes a little practice to get the salt levels just right. I have cured up to 2 days per kilo and the results were great. My advice would be to start with 1 day per kilo and see how you like it.
Getting ready for drying
after the hind leg has finished curing, remove it from the bin and rinse off all of the salt, pepper, and garlic (if you added that). Then give your pork leg a vinegar wash or a wine wash.
OPTIONAL STEP: If you have a collagen sheet you can cover the exposed meat section with a sheet, prick out any air pockets.
Weigh the pork leg and record the weight (This is the hanging weight). We want to target a weight loss of 30%. So next to the "hanging weight" write down your target weight. This is what we will be shooting for.
I would advise using a mold culture on your hind leg but this is optional. Using a mold culture will keep unwanted molds from growing on your proscuitto. If oyu plan on using a mold culture, simply mix a little of the mold powder with water, let it sit at room temp for a few hours, the spray or brush your hind leg before hanging to dry.
With a hook or butcher's twine, hang the leg to dry in a drying chamber with the temp set to 55f (13c) and the humidity set to 80%
The final stage of drying
after the hind leg has lost the appropriate amount of weight, remove it from the chamber, remove the collages sheet (if oyu used that), and wash the hind leg down with a 50/50 water and vinegar wash. The blot dry. This will remove any molds on the meat.
Prepare the sugna by adding equal parts softened lard and rice flour (you can add black pepper if you want. This is an insect deterrent). Apply the sugna to the exposed meat section of the hind leg in a thin even coating.
Hang the leg back in your drying chamber where the temp is 55f (13c) and 80% humidity for at least 8 more months. You want a total hanging time around 12-14 months. I let mine hang for 24 months to develope an even better flavor. The choice is yours.
Slice thinly and enjoy!!
We are Amazon Affiliates which means if you happen to buy something from Amazon after clicking one of our links we get a tiny percentage. This happens at no cost to you and really helps us offset the costs of running this site. Thank you in advance.