Ziti with Bladder Campion and Parma Ham
Here instead is my first proper recipe with Silene Vulgaris, whose sweet and delicate flavor, enhanced by a generous use of shallots and garlic – which are complementary to each other – will perfectly match the decisive presence of Parma Ham… and if you call it by its latin name it sounds even posher, doesn’t it?
“Prosciutto di Parma” and “Prosciutto San Daniele”
Parma Ham is not all the same
The choice of Parma Ham is another matter that deserves to be discussed in general and for a good result of this recipe.
The are several types of “Prosciutto” (ham) available here in England. Some of them come from Germany, some others from Spain or somewhere else and they all belong to the so called “Italian sounding” products: they are not italian, but their name sounds as if they were.
I would advice to stick to a genuine Italian brand.
In italy, there are many different types of “Prosciutto Crudo”, which means raw cured ham. Many regions have their own specific type whose taste can vary quite a lot, just as the amount of salt used for the curing. But here it the United kingdom – unless I was ordering from a deli – I could only find two types of “Prosciutto Crudo”: “Prosciutto di Parma” and “San Daniele”.
Prosciutto di Parma is easily available in almost any supermarket. Its price changes according to the brand, and it is a savory type of “Prosciutto Crudo”.
“Prosciutto di San Daniele”, instead, is more rare. It is produced only in a small area of Friuli Venezia Giulia – the beautiful village of San Daniele del Friuli– in the north-east of the country, and it is usually slightly more expensive than Parma Ham. It is sweet and tender and its meat has a lighter shade of red than other types of raw ham. It can be used in dozens of ways, but it’s most peculiar and heavenly matches are with figs and with melon: believe me, just try it!
As far as you stay away from the too aggressive tastes of non-Italian hams and you wisely manage the seasoning, you will have grate results with both of them.
How to understand how salty a “Prosciutto Crudo” is
Since the brands of any Italian Prosciutto are so many, the amount of salt used for the curing can vary quite a lot. It depends either on the traditions of the manufacturers and on the quality of the product itself.
The key for understanding how salty a prosciutto can be is in it’s colour. The saltier the ham,the darker its red colour. Obviously, it’s not a scientific proof, but generally you can rely on this fact.
You can drop the percentage of salt in the ham simply soaking the slices into some milk for few hours, just remember to wipe them and dry them with kitchen paper before using them.