Should you slice it by hand with a knife or with a slicing machine? This is a true Hamlet doubt. Although we have no idea whether Shakespeare has ever tasted a slice of prosciutto di San Daniele or not, we can certainly say that the former French nobility very much appreciated it. You should know that, at the time of Napoleon’s invasion – at the turn of the nineteenth century – San Daniele Dop was an object of raiding. Why ? Because it was brought to France, to the court of Louis XVIII. It seems that he was particularly proud of his ability to cut prosciutto in very thin slices: it is said that, in the long years before ascending the throne (1814), slicing ham was his favourite hobby.
Slicing a San Daniele Dop is an art that cannot be improvised, and the fact that you prefer a good old-fashioned knife or a slicing machine doesn’t really matter that much. How do you get the perfect slice? There are various paths you can follow, whether you are fans of manual skills or of the help of a machine.
Slicing by hand
First of all: it is a good idea to be patient. What is the second thing you should do? Arm yoursel with a ham holder, a cutting board, a short-bladed scalping knife, a fork and a knife with a long and sharp blade. At this stage all you need is a little slicing expertise. If you have all this, a percfect slice is assured, keeping intact all its aroma and fragrance.
Begin by removing the rind from a whole ham with bone, then remove the putty on the surface and the small hip. For this operation use the scalping knife. An important piece of advice: remove only the part of rind strictly necessary for the cut, this way you will preserve the product much better. At this point take the ham and secure it on its holder, with the part you have previously cleaned from the rind facing upwards. And now, for the big one: you can start cutting the slices, using always both hands to keep the posture balance while cutting: one hand holds the knife with the thin blade to cut the slices and the other one holds the fork.
It’s very simple now to cut the slices: just slice with a light sawing motion involving all the knife length, without applying excessive pressure. What about the thickness? That is for you to decide, according to your taste!
You can continue slicing this way until you reach the bone (remembering to remove the rind and the putty from time to time). When you get there, turn the ham upside down, then remove once more rind and putty. Secure the ham again on the holder and carry on with the slicing on the new side. And once you get familiar with that movement…there you have it!
Cutting with a slicing machine
Things get much easier here. You needn’t worry about your slicing skills. Just put the ham on the slicing machine after removing the rind and the putty. Place the ham with the fat facing upwards and slice it thinly, removing some rind as you slice it. A little advice for an almost transparent slice? The ham should be very cold, keeping it in the fridge until cutting time will help you to slice it much more thinly.
If there is one thing we’d always like to emphasise, that is food waste. For this reason you should know that when you cut prosciutto di San Daniele, everyone’s sure to have a voice, Making sure, for example, not to discard the beautiful fat on the slice, or using the rind to give flavour to soups. Did you know that the softest and sweetest slices of the San Daniele are cut from the shin, near the trotter?
A proper cut is therefore another way to avoid any kind of food waste. And now…Enjoy slicing!