Farming families in the Marche have always rased chickens, rabbits, pidgeons, cows, either to help with the work in the fields or to sell any products deriving from them - milk, eggs, cheese, salami, etc. But the pig has always been an exception: it has always been bought, reared and processed for the exclusive use of the family. Ham, salami, lonze, sausages and coppa would only be sold at a pinch! The pigs on the farm were fed with acorns, maize, potatoes, barley and pigswill, and they got fatter and fatter. After about a year the pig was destined to be slaughtered, its parts dismembered to make lonze, salami, lard, bacon, ham. All of them would make a fine display hanging from the beams of the ceilings in the months to come...The Marche does have its own prosciutto brand - the Carpegna ham.
It got its DOP -Denomination of Protected Origin - in 1996 and its excellent quality does not contain preservatives, sodium nitrate or nitrite, its only ingredients being salt, superior pork meat and flavourings. The Carpegna ham is pressed, washed with wine, rubbed with salt and the portions non protected by the skin are coated in a mixture of lard and spices, such as: black pepper, pork fat, paprika and other substances used to enhance its unmistakable flavour.The ham is then hanged to age in special cellars. During the ageing period that normally exceeds one year, the ham is tasted with a needle-shaped horse bone which absorbes and quickly releases the aromas allowing for a thourough check of the ham. Only then is the ham branded with the "Carpegna Ham" trademark.
The Carpegna ham is quite round in shape, its inside is salmon-pink and so is its fat. It should be sliced by hand with a long, sharp knife. It makes a great appetizer or even a tasty quick lunch. In teh long summer months the Carpegna ham is best served with melon or figs for a surprising sweet/savoury yummiest contrast !