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Kosher Prosciutto

March 18, 2021
Photo: Benedetta Jasmine GuettaPhoto: Benedetta Jasmine Guetta

Somewhere in the countryside outside Milan, in an abandoned farm owned by my family, I’m raising geese. It’s a rather bizarre activity for a city girl like me, but one that will allow me to keep alive an ancient tradition of the Jews of northern Italy: producing homemade kosher charcuterie out of goose meat.

Featured in: How to Make Kosher Prosciutto

Ingredients

  • 1whole goose
  • 2Tbsp black pepper
  • 2Tbsp allspice
  • 12Tbsp salt

Preparation

  • Step 1

    Ask your butcher to pluck, clean, and empty the goose of all the entrails. If possible, ask to also have the skin of the neck set aside for later usage.

  • Step 2

    Bring the goose home and place it on a cutting board, breast side up.

  • Step 3

    Stop for a moment, inspect the goose and say: “No ghe se più le oche de ‘na olta” (geese are not as good as they used to be). Anna Campos, who taught me the recipe, says that complaining about the goose is of vital importance to the process.

  • Step 4

    In a bowl, mix together salt, freshly ground black pepper, and allspice.

  • Step 5

    Use a very sharp knife to carve out the legs. Find the soft and fatty spot in each thigh where the leg connects to the body and start cutting around the leg from there; move on to cutting into the tendon, so that the leg can pull away easily.

  • Step 6

    At this point, decide if you want your prosciutto on the bone or not; if not, separate the meat from the bone and set the bones aside. In any case, keep the skin attached to the legs: You can make prosciutto using just the meat, but the skin adds to its flavor.

  • Step 7

    Next, cut the goose along the breastbone in the middle to separate the breast meat from the body. Carve each breast gently, keeping the skin on, and once you are done carving trim away the extra bits of skin and fat, to obtain two neatly shaped breasts.

  • Step 8

    At this point, set aside whatever is left on the carcass for salami making.

  • Step 9

    With the help of a second person, pull the bones from opposite sides to crack the carcass open in two, then carve out all the meat left on it and set it aside in a bowl. The bones can be treasured to flavor broths and soups.

  • Step 10

    Place the meat (the same procedure applies for legs and breasts) in a glass bowl, rub it generously with 1/3 of the mix of spices and leave it to rest in the fridge. The total resting time for the meat in the fridge is seven days. For the first six days, remove any liquid that might have formed and repeat the rubbing every two days.

  • Step 11

    On the sixth day, take out the leg and use a sterile needle and food-safe thread to saw the meat around the bone (or on itself, if you decided to avoid the bone) to perfect the shape of your prosciutto. The breast doesn’t require any sawing if you trimmed it well.

  • Step 12

    Put the meat back in the fridge, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and press it down with a weight (e.g., a heavy jar) for 24 hours.

  • Step 13

    Pat the meat with a paper towel, tie it with string, and hang it somewhere cool: Traditionally, the meat is left to season and dry open air, outside in the winter, or in a wine cellar in the summer.

  • Step 14

    The prosciutto is safe to eat as early as a month into the drying, but it’s best left to season for 3-4 months.

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