Wednesday, June 21, 2006

La Quercia Prosciutto Americano and Pancetta Americana

I’ve been waiting a long time for someone to produce a great proscuitto in this country and I think someone finally has. La Quercia, a company started by Herb and Katherine Eckhouse, seems to do everything right. The ham is from a Berkshire cross breed raised by the Midwest Organic Valley Coop, and the cut they are using is the culatello (the hind muscle, a prized cut in Italy). The meat is free of antibiotics, nitrates, or nitrate substitutes.

I recently bought some La Quercia prosciutto and pancetta at Murray’s cheese in New York. The prosciutto had incredible texture, a sweet finish and a delicious taste straight through and it was not overly salty. It didn’t have the power of Prosciutto di Parma from Italy or the rich nutty flavor of Pata Negra from Spain, two of my favorite cured hams, but that didn’t matter to me. Why compare Bordeaux to Burgundy? What it did have was integrity.

I picked up some orecchiette pasta from Rustichella d’Abruzzzo at Murray’s and made a pasta with the pancetta, sautéing it until it was crisp with some broccoli rabe, a little cream, and pecorino cheese. It was also incredibly tasty. Again, the pancetta lacked the punch of Italian pancetta but it still had impressive flavor.

I’ll eat prosciutto di Parma in Italy, and Pata Negra in Spain, but La Quercia is the first organic prosciutto and pancetta produced in America and I will be proud to serve it at my American table. Check the website for availability but you may also be able to find it at Whole Foods.

La Quercia, Llc
400 Hakes Drive
Norwalk, Iowa 50211
(515) 981.1628


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