Culatello, The Taste of Italian Cured Meats
The sublime Culatello (the word culatello means “little backside”) is the king and symbol of Italian cured meats. The typical Italian Culatello of the lower Po Valley, near Parma, is made with the large muscle mass in the rear leg of the pig. One of the differences with the wonderful local ham, is that with the Culatello the bone is removed whereas with other prosciutto the whole legs are used, and not to mention the extraordinary organoleptic qualities of the Culatello of Zibello.
Another difference lies in the conditions in which it is left to cure and age, the curing period lasts at least 10-11 months: unlike its more famous relative, it requires moist places, also because the cut of meat utilized contains less fat. The winter fog is an essential part of the ideal climate to make a good Culatello. Once coated with salt, pepper, garlic and Lambrusco, the nascent Culatello is tied with a very tight rope and hung from the rafters, and that is where it gets its characteristic pear or egg-like shape.
The best known Culatello is the DOP Culatello of Zibello, produced in the surroundings of the Parmesan Municipality in quantities that hover around 50,000 units a year. This territory was for centuries the only production and consumption place of this cold cut today.