In the course of human history the need to store meat for long periods of time, without refrigeration, has led to a lot of inventiveness. In Italy and other southern European countries, where livestock was plentiful but temperatures high, this has led to the creation of a variety of techniques. Culatello is a form of ham, air-cured (traditionally in caves). It’s created using the best quality pork, like other hams, originating from the hind leg of the animal. In the case of Culatello, this is boned and much of the fat removed. Lightly seasoned and then cured this ham features full pork flavor with a soft texture.
Asparagus Soup with Culatello:
Like any cured meat, Culatello, is a fantastic snack dish but can easily be added to pasta, stews and soups. It can be found in any number of Italian dishes and is perfect for adding texture and flavor. Asparagus soup is one dish that works well with the flavor; combine and cook potato, onion and garlic in vegetable stock and when all are well softened add asparagus. Cook until the asparagus is tender and in the meantime lightly fry the Culatello until it is just crispy. When the soup is cooked through, blend and serve with the Culatello crumbled over the top.
Pizza with Culatello:
Culatello shouldn’t be left out when it comes to pizza, of course, and it’s the perfect ham for this old favorite. Toppings that work best in combination with Culatello include mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and fresh olives. This particular Italian ham is so flexible, however, that it should work well with many combinations and really, your imagination is the only limit!