Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cure Me With Ham: La Quercia

La Quercia is a small, family-run Iowa prosciutto maker. (Angelenos will be tempted to pronounce it in Spanish, but it's [la Kwair-cha], Italian for oak tree). Their prosciuttos have developed a cult-like popularity.

La Quercia makes a wide variety of prosciutto, including an acorn fed variety; they also make guanciale, pancetta, copa and lardo. Many of these are only available wholesale to restaurants, but there is a limited variety that can be ordered directly from the La Quercia website. I was lucky enough to receive the "prosciutto tris" as a gift with three distinct varieties.

The Prosciutto Americano was amazingly rich, meaty and even a bit nutty. It had a much deeper flavor than some milder prosciuttos. It had a melt-in-the-mouth quality that reminded me of jamon iberico. Definitely some of the best prosciutto I've had.

Speck Americano is a very different ham, but still wonderful. It has a more traditional American ham taste and is saltier than the Prosciutto Americano.

Prosciutto Piccante is a hunk of cured ham in a spicy rub. It had great flavor, but I would have preferred the type of paper-thin slices that were used for the other two prosciuttos. It's hard to get that level of thinness if you don't have your own meat slicer, an item which I regrettably lack.

If you're a fan of cured meats, you definitely need to check out La Quercia.

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