Quality home-made prosciutto is a true gastronomic delicacy in every way imaginable. When eaten with olive oil, a slice of warm bread and nice hard cheese, there’s hardly anything that can beat prosciutto. Even though prosciutto is a world-famous delicacy, we take great pride in our delicious local varieties.
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Prosciutto is a well-known mainstay of Spanish and Italian cuisine, but still there’s something special about Croatian prosciutto. Something better and uniquely ours.
Properly bora dried local prosciutto with its salty flavours is right up there with the best world delicacies. There are very few dishes as captivating as real quality prosciutto from Dalmatia, Istria, Krk or Drniš. This great delicacy is one of Croatia’s most original products. Dalmatian prosciutto is produced by drying pork hind legs. The meat is smoke-dried and bora dries it as well. After that, all that’s left is to relish wafer-thin slices of a meat delicacy so precious it just melts in your mouth. When you eat it, it’ll make you feel glad you exist so you can taste it.
Prior to drying the meat, it needs to be properly washed, salted and protected from pests. The ham is salted using sea salt which is then removed after about ten days. Then the meat is taken back to drying where it’ll spend several months or even years. Ideally it takes about a year to dry it. But the longer the prosciutto dries, the better it gets when it comes to its quality, richness of flavour and texture.
In addition to its wonderful taste, prosciutto is rich in protein and minerals, namely, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and calcium, which renders it a perfect food item for occasional gastronomic expeditions that you’re bound to love.
Prosciutto is strictly hand-sliced, with the most experienced going so far as to claim that slicers are out of the question. Each slice should be as thin and long as possible, which is no mean feat if you’re using a knife. But if it’s cut that way, that’ll enhance the prosciutto’s flavour and appearance considerably. The best prosciutto is the one sliced before your eyes, whereas the sliced store-bought prosciutto is more suitable to be used for preparing meals.
Prosciutto from Drniš, Krk and Istria are the most recognisable types in Croatia, alongside the Dalmatian variety. In addition to their geographical origin, other differences between these varieties mostly boil down to how drying is done. For instance, Mediterranean spices are rubbed onto Istrian prosciutto which is air-dried, but not smoked.
Prosciutto works wonders given that it goes great with a spate of exceptional dishes. You can combine it with different kinds of meat, add it to a done pizza or to a warm pogača (traditional pie) on which it will melt beautifully and turn into something completely different. It’s not unheard of to add prosciutto to all kinds of pasta and risotto, button mushrooms and almost all vegetable. But serving it with a couple of chunks of home-made cheese, warm bread and good olive oil will bring out its best qualities.
Prosciutto is often included in our favourite restaurants’ menus as part of an opulent meat platter served as a starter or as an ingredient of their most appetising meals. For instance, Zadar’s Pjat Bistro offers their guests a starter dish called Donat tapas which consists of hand-sliced prosciutto, Pag cheese, olives and onion marmalade, whereas Split’s Perivoj blends prosciutto and cow milk curd.
Zlatni Restaurant from Opatija has even two prosciutto dishes and they are fuži (traditional Istrian pasta) with a cheese and young prosciutto filling and veal stuffed with young prosciutto in a sauce made of malvasia and olives (“Pijano tele”).
Zagreb’s Waves &Denim bar will offer pork medallions with prosciutto, mushrooms and courgettes to their guests, while restaurant August located in Popovača might win you over with their pumpkin and prosciutto ričet (tradition barley porridge dish).
The very best restaurants in Croatia will undoubtedly mesmerise you with their rich and exceptional menus and prosciutto will make every dish taste even better. Pick out your favourite combination and enjoy the best local food.