Sublime Hams

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
The many months that salted meats keep turned out to transform pig flesh into some of the great foods of the world! First among them are the dry-cured hams, which go back at least to classical times. The modern versions, which include Italian prosciutto di Parma, Spanish serrano, French Bayonne, and American country hams, may be aged for a year or more. Though they can be cooked, dry-cured hams are at their best when eaten in paper-thin raw slices. With their vivid, rose-colored translucency, silken texture, and a flavor at once meaty and fruity, they are to fresh pork what long-aged cheeses are to fresh milk: a distillation, an expression of the transforming powers of salt, enzymes, and time.