European Dry-Cured Hams

Appears in

Cold-Smoking & Salt-Curing Meat, Fish, & Game

Cold-Smoking & Salt-Curing Meat, Fish, & Game

By A D Livingston

Published 2010

  • About

Though it is somewhat difficult to decide which one of the various kinds of ham should be adopted, in my opinion that of Bohemia, known as Prague Ham, is best for a warm dish, and that of York for a cold dish.

A. Escoffier

I like to think that the perfect ham—salt-cured and hickory-smoked—was developed in the Americas, but this may not be the case. According to my old edition of Larousse Gastronomique, it was the Gauls who developed the technique of curing hams. After salting the hams, the Gauls smoked them for 2 days with “certain selected woods.” Then they rubbed them with oil and vinegar and hung them to age. The Gauls are said to have exported these hams in large numbers to Rome and to the whole of Italy. But I’m sure that champions of Italy’s Parma ham, which is fed on the whey left from making Parmesan cheese and fattened on parsnips, would have a few words to say about the origin of cured hams, so I won’t pursue the matter further.