America just got itself some really good ham.
For the first time in its centuries-old history, Prosciutto di Carpegna is being sold in America, and this is a very big deal.
The prosciutto, which comes from pigs raised in the Emilia Romagna, Marche, and Lombardia regions of Italy, is treasured for its intense flavor and soft, almost elastic texture. While Prosciutto di Parma and Daniele is pretty widely known in the States, Prosciutto di Carpegna DOP has yet to take off, likely because it's never been accessible to the American consumer. As of July, however, Fratelli Beretta will be the exclusive importers of the ham, making it available to American prosciutto lovers who'll no longer have to smuggle it back from Italian vacations. And it's heavenly.
The guidelines for calling a cured ham "Prosciutto di Carpegna"—signified by the government-regulated "DOP" designation—are quite strict. The product must come from the Italian pig breed known as pesante padano, or “heavy pigs,” which are found in the Lombardia, Emilia-Romagna, and Marche regions. The pigs must be at least ten months old before butchering, and the ham must be cured, using Cervian "sweet salt," at least ten months. The prosciutto is coated in a blend of lard and spices, adding to its distinctive flavor.
Prosciutto di Carpegna is made in a single plant owned by Fratelli Beretta in a village called Carpegna, located in the Montefeltro mountains, a hub of prosciutto production since the 15th century. According to Fratelli Beretta, they'll produce both a whole boneless leg, and a sliced version of the prosciutto in a 3-oz. tray, using a 20-month aging process, that will now be sold in America at select retailers, including Zabar's and Fairway, and restaurants.
"Prosciutto di Carpegna has been enjoyed in Italy for centuries, and I am so proud of our family to be able to introduce such a special tradition to the United States for the very first time,” said Alberto Beretta, the CEO of Fratelli Beretta, in a statement. “This is some of the most exclusive prosciutto to be made in the world and has an incredible history and tradition.”