We were lucky enough to be given a bountiful bag of prosciutto fat. Actually it is a combination of prosciutto and Iberico ham fat, saved for us by a friendly cheese monger. It is difficult to express my pleasure with this luxury. The amount of time and energy which went into creating these flavorful pieces of fat, skin, and discarded trim is amazing. How can I express the potential of what we have received? Our first step in utilizing the fats' possibilities is rendering out the fat. We actually divided the pieces of prosciutto between two pots and gently heated the contents. The low heat allows the fat to be released into the pot while the skin/ham pieces shrink and caramelize, allowing the two parts to separate and produce two very different ingredients full of potential for our kitchen.
The fat itself will be used for a number of fat-based applications, from poaching fish to making foie gras prosciutto and a savory caraway bread. Some of the prosciutto cracklings will be ground into a fine seasoning base, some used to season soups, sauces, legumes, and vegetables, and some will be the flavoring agent for a prosciutto consomme. These are our starting points. Who knows where we'll end up.