As much as I love eating cured meat by itself, when Sam and Laura gave me three pounds of cured pig, I quickly realized it would be necessary to find something else to do with all that pork. And while I wasn’t worried about it going bad (it’s cured, after all), it has been about a month since I popped the seal on the first pound of prosciutto Americano.
Something had to be done.
But what the hell are you supposed to do with prosciutto besides eat it in hunks? I haven’t really been served it any other way. Sure I’ve had it dressed up — wrapped around melon, stuffed in a fig, put with a salad — but not prepared differently.
But putting prosciutto in lasagna is apparently a real thing, though I’ve never had it that way before.
So we ground up around three-quarters of a pound of La Quercia prosciutto Americano (my 3-year-old thought meat wiggling around like worms as it came out of the grinder was one of the funniest things she’d seen in a while); threw in some speck — the smoked version of prosciutto — for good measure; and cooked some grass-feed ground beef with a little onion and garlic and tossed in the ground pig. We mixed together the obscenely creamy whole-milk mozzarella (and some part-skim to reduce the high-fat guilt) and the ricotta. And Laura whipped up some tomato sauce.
I have loved lasagna well enough and long enough to have carefully crafted a ceramic lasagna-specific dish in a high-school art class that my mother still uses. The prosciutto added a dimension — a smokey, cured depth — that lasagna usually doesn’t have.
I’ve struggled with an appropriate metaphor for this, but let’s try this: A couple years ago every body realized you could add foie gras to burgers made with good ground beef and have THE BEST BURGER YOU’VE EVER EATEN. It was sorta like that, only didn’t involve sticking a funnel down a duck’s throat.