Mark and I aren’t eating out as often as we used to. It’s a recession, you know. But last weekend, we went to Buca di Beppo because I had a $10-off coupon. We had the most amazing salad. It was their regular house salad, but it had gorgonzola crumbles and crispy prosciutto on top. I am not afraid to ask a waitress how they produce some terrific ingredient, so I asked our extremely cheerful waitress about the prosciutto. She went back to the kitchen and then told me it was hand cured. I do not wish to cast aspersions on the veracity of this statement, but…I doubted it. They’re hand curing prosciutto in a chain restaurant?
So I come home and start doing some research on the internet. And, of course, I have some prosciutto in the freezer because I’m just that kind of girl. Here’s how I think Buca di Beppo does the crispy prosciutto. Set the oven for 400 degrees. Put the prosciutto on a baking sheet. I use Silpat because I hate to clean up. If you don’t have Silpat, you need to get some. It will change your life. Bake the prosciutto for about seven minutes and start checking it. When it looks like it’s on the verge of burning, take it out. As it cools, it will crisp up.
Now the Italian gourmet people will tell you it’s a crime to do this to prosciutto. It’s a very expensive ham that’s usually is eaten raw (it’s already cured so don’t get your panties in a wad). But I have to tell you, the texture of raw prosciutto is very, well, chewy. And not in a good way. No one’s going to say that out loud because nobody wants to look unsophisticated. But I’ll say it. It’s chewy and not in a good way.
But crisped up, it’s like designer bacon. I recreated the Buca di Beppo salad last night and it was pretty close to the original. Once again, as in a lot of my recipes, this is more of a procedure than a recipe. So suspend your need of measurements, and commence to making this.
Crispy Prosciutto and Gorgonzola Salad
Make the crispy prosciutto like I just told you.
Get a head of iceberg lettuce. That’s right. Iceberg. No need to be snobby about this. Cut it into chunks and use as much of it as are people to eat the salad. I make this as a main course for two so I use about half a head.
Slice some red onion very thinly. Add it. Cut some green olives into halves. Add them. I had some pitted kalamata olives in the icebox, so I cut them in half and added them, too. Take about a tablespoon of dried oregano and crush it between your fingers to let the aroma out. Add that. Salt and pepper to taste. Then, and here’s a key to a good salad, take a pinch of sugar and throw it in. Now, add vegetable oil. Not a lot. You want the lettuce leaves to shimmer just a bit but you don’t want to drown them. Get some apple cider vinegar and put your thumb over the top of the bottle. Sprinkle it over the salad. Toss it. Taste it. The dressing should be a back hind note to the other ingredients.
Add in your prosciutto. It’s really hard to add too much. I think I used about three whole slices of it. Add your gorgonzola crumbs (you can find these in almost any supermarket where the cheap cheese is sold). A word of caution. If you add too much gorgonzola, or any blue cheese for that matter, it will taste like throw up. So just be judicious.
And there you have it. You will want to eat this, I promise. And here’s another tip. I had some crispy prosciutto left over and I made “ham” biscuits with it. Oh, yes.