Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lamb Prosciutto

If you say "prosciutto" to someone, automatically the first thing they think of is a cured pig leg. In reality prosciutto could be ageneric term for a cured leg of any animal. It could be pig, goat; also known as a "violino di capra", or in my case, lamb, which would be "prosciutto d'agnello". I can't claim to have thought of this preparation first, the idea was put into my head when I saw a portion of a show on TV filed at Salumi in Seattle. They have a lamb prosciutto, and I said , "why couldn't I do that?". Well, I could. And I did. You really have to like lamb though, the curing process intensifies the flavor, so if you're not a lamb lover, you won't like this probably.

I've made this with a bone-in leg of lamb, but I prefer it boneless, it's a little easier to slice, and a little easier to handle.

Lamb Prosciutto
IngredientQuantity(g)% of Meat
Lamb leg
White sugar
Black pepper
Cure #2
Fresh rosemary
Garlic powder

I started with a packaged boneless leg of lamb from Costco.

This is the "outside" portion of the leg. You can see there is a little bit of fat, not much, which means not much trimming is necessary.

The inside of the leg. The boning process mangles the meat pretty well, but it sure is convenient not to have to do it myself!

I trimmed just a little bit of fat off, but mostly removed what felt like a slimy sinew that was on top of the fat. On the top right of the picture is a little pile of all that was removed. Not much as you can see.

The fresh rosemary in the foreground and the rest of the stuff in the back. I chopped up the rosemary by hand really fine, and then mixed it in with the other cure ingredients. Smelled great!

Here are all the cure ingredients, ready to be mixed up really well and applied massaging them into the meat.

I like to use a big container that can fit the meat in, and then I apply the rub. This makes sure that all the calculated amount of salt and curing salts actually ends up on the meat instead of on the counter.

I massage the meat really well, and make sure to get cure into all the cuts and crevices of the leg.

Closeup of the meat rubbed and massaged with the cure.

This will stay in the fridge for 15-20 days, flipping and massaging half way through.

Once the fridge cure time is up, I'll roll it up tightly and put it in a casing (probably) to dry in the curing chamber.


Ryan said...

Are you planning on curing it butterflied out like that?

Jasonmolinari said...

Ryan, thanks for asking, i will add this to the blog entry. The meat will be rolled back up tightly and cased and then dried.

EricD said...

Hi Jason. I made this last year following your posts on eGullet and your recipe on Len Poli's site. Per your suggestions at the time, I applied the cure in two stages -- half in the beginning and the other half a couple of weeks later. I see you've done it in one shot this time and I'm curious about your thinking on this procedure then and now. I noticed a number of the recipes on the Poli site call for a two stages cure application for whole muscles. Thanks. Eric

Jasonmolinari said...

Eric, i used to do it in 2 stages b/c that's what i read on Len's site. I don't really understand why though.
So, since i do my bresaole and coppe in 1 shot, i figured this could be a 1 shot cure as well.

Russell Hews Everett said...

I've been thinking about doing this too but I'd like to try it first. I popped down to Salumi a couple times but they're always sold out! Guess that means it's good...

Why bother rolling it? Won't that just create airpockets and potential spoilage?

Jasonmolinari said...

Yeah, rolling will create some possibility of air pockets, but if done carefully and tightly it should be no problem.
It would be a pain to handle unrolled, and i wouldn't be able to get nice round slices, they would be long and thin.

EricD said...

When I made this, before I rolled it, I sprinkled the interior cuts with geletin and then tied it up tight. Worked great. It dried seamless with no gaps. It looked like a solid piece of meat when cut.

Jasonmolinari said...

That really interesting Eric. I might do that. Did you just sprinkle dry powdered gelatin all over? About how much did you use?

EricD said...

I just dusted the internal surfaces with the dry gelatin. I didn't put a lot on -- kind of like I was salting it -- maybe 3-4 tsp total. After I tied it back up tightly I had a size and shape that didn't lend itself to any casing I had available. I considered cutting and piecing a collagen casing but ended up smearing the whole thing with lard and hanging it in cheese cloth. This also worked pretty well as I only had a touch of case hardening.

Nick said...

The gelatin sounds like a good idea, but I would use meat glue (transglutaminase/Activa), though I know that would freak some people out. It's just an enzyme though, and it has little or no flavor and works like magic. Unfortunately, it's only available in large, $80 quantities as far as I can tell.

matt said...

fantastic. I was just thinking about doing a lamb prosciutto, after tasting some from Salumi in Seattle.

My plan was to follow your original recipe on Len's site, where I believe you cured it bone in? I am not sure I could tie a roll like this up tight enough to avoid all those air pockets.

Looking forward to seeing how this works out for you!

Jasonmolinari said...

Yes, the recipe i sent Len was bone in. I've made it boneless and i preferred it.

Anonymous said...

if your interested in using activa for something like this, contact the website and ask for samples. thats what i did and they sent me 100g packets of each type, mor than enough to use for a long time.

Portland Charcuterie Project said...

Hi Jason. I'm starting a bone in lamb leg tonight. 6.5lbs
adjusted the cure mix to compensate for the weight difference. I've done a pig leg before and did all the cure at once so I'll do this one the same

stay tuned and I'll share how it turns out

Btw: I've been a reader for about 6 months ad
have made a few bresaola, basturma, and tons of bacon
and pancetta. Have a lonzino and basturma hanging now.
Thanks for the info and inspiration!!

Mr T Mizzo said...

Hi Jason,

I am going to start grinding and stuffing today. I have everything set up, but I do have two questions.

1.) I am using T-SPX for a slow fermentation to avoind the acidy flavor and I am looking at two primary sources for my formulations: Len Poli and you. Recipes call for Dextrose/Glucose. I read somewhere that I might want to use sugar instead of Dextrose/Glucose with the slow acting T-SPX? Is this true or is Dextrose ok? If not, is there a conversion table for sugar to Dextrose and what kind of sugar? Just powdered?

2.) I use a 150 Watt reptile basking lamp for heat in my fermentation chamber to maintain heat levels. It is not an infrared bulb however, so light IS emitted when the heat lamp is on. I have read alot that my chambers should be dark, however for fermentation, which is for the most part no longer than 2 days, does off and on light affect things enough to worry about? Keep in mind my drying chamber is a separate unit with no light problems so this is really only applicable to the 2-day fermentation chamber. So the drying chamber is dark all the time but is it ok to have a heat source that emits light in the fermentation chamber?

Thanks as always Jason!

Todd Crawford

Mr T Mizzo said...


Is the right amount of starter 0.06% or 0.006% a little confused on this?



Jasonmolinari said...

1) dextrose is used because it's a simple sugar, unlike sucrose (table sugar) which is not. The bacteria break down the simple sugars to ferment and acidify. I've only ever used dextrose for all bacteria. The is no conversion of dextrose to sucrose, they are 2 different sugars.

2) i have a light emitting bulb in my fermentation chamber, and haven't had any problems.

3) It doesn't matter what the % of starter is. The acidification level is based on the amount of sugar added, not on the amount of starter. The bacteria consume the sugar, and generate acid. Once the sugar is gone, that's it. You need a minimum amount of starter, but more starter won't hurt or acidify more.

Mr T Mizzo said...

And - my comments are regarding salami NOT prosciutto. Sorry of there was any confusion!


Mr T Mizzo said...

AWESOME!!! I will take pictures along the way and let you know how this goes. Thanks so much for how you get back to all of your visitors in such a fast and concise way. Truly a gift of yours.

Thanks again Jason!

Todd Crawford

Anonymous said...


what a small world! It's Oliver, from sir james. I've recently moved to Oxford (Nilo lives here also) and have been bitten by the "home-made-salumi" bug. Just started making my own sausages. I came across this blog looking for a method for coppa. Awsome. My next step is some bacon.

hope you are well,


Jasonmolinari said...

Hey Oliver, welcome to the hobby and hope i can help along with the salumi!
Say hello to Nilo for me, although i do talk to him ever couple of week on Skype.

francesco said...

Hi Jason this is Francesco im italian chef new to your blog,congratulations is really great....sorry to post here in the comment of the lamb ,but i didnt knows how to get in touch;i have a very easy question for you,i did the pancetta using the curing salt,i left out to a temperature of 5 or 6 celsius 18 days,well is good but has not scent,totaly nothin gnammy porky smell,whats happened?Thank you for your time and sorry to eveybody,to use this space.

Jasonmolinari said...

Hi Francesco. Are you saying you made a pancetta but it has no smell? Did you use good quality herbs and spices?
I have no idea why it has no smell! I've never seen that! Sorry!

Portland Charcuterie Project said...

Hi Jason:

My first lamb leg completed it's first 2 weeks of curing.. I just applied the 2nd application of salt/cure/spices. I was going to do it all in one time, but a large majority of it was just sitting on the bottom of the container, so I went with a 2 prong approach.

It's looking good, I can see the liquid leaving the leg and it should be good.

I'm working on creating a real "curing" chamber, as I've been hanging my meat ( no pun intended ) in an unfinished room in my basement, where I'm not able to control heat and humidity as accurately as I'd like.

stay tuned.. I'll be ready to hang my meat in one week.

too bad we can't add pics here.

Jasonmolinari said...

Sounds great Todd.

Portland Charcuterie Project said...

Jason.. you finally got me off my butt and I've created my own blog.. in no way meant to compete with yours, but just a way to showcase what I'm learning here.

I just tasted my first lonzino last night and my wife loved it!!! ( she doesn't usually love anything I make ).

You can see pics at


I'll be posting more pics and results as I try more of your recipes.

Thanks again..


Jasonmolinari said...

Sounds great Todd. Looking forward to your trials!

Unknown said...

Great post!

I've been wanting to make lamb prosciutto for some time.

The lamb prosciutto from Salumi is good, but I prefer the one from DaPino (also in Seattle) - more gamey.

Do you have to use curing salt or can you do it without? Usually when I cure duck breasts or make biltong (South African cured meat) I don't use a cure, but maybe because of the size/thickness of the meat you recommend curing salts.


Jasonmolinari said...

Mark, i use curing salts. Look at my ingredients list.

Unknown said...

Yeah, I know you use curing salts.
Does one have to, or are there any issues curing a leg of lamb without curing salts - based on your past experience?

Jasonmolinari said...

Mark, i wouldn't, but that doesn't mean it can't be done.
Why would you want to do with the curing salts? Seems like an added risk for no benefit.

Unknown said...

To avoid nitrates/nitrites

Jasonmolinari said...

Mark, to what end? You eat more nitrates in your spinach salad than you would consuming a whole lamb prosciutto.

Either way, it's your choice of course. Personally, i wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jason, I'm totally new the world of home curing so I was really chuffed when I stumbled accross your bolg. Being a red blooded (usually cholesterol filled) South African male I can’t get enough of all things Charcuterie. Lamb here is what chicken is in the rest of the world. I have tasted Lamb Prosciutto once before and loved it. How long would you cure a whole leg of lamb for to make Prosciutto?



Jasonmolinari said...

Hey Mart...a whole leg of lamb i'm guessing would take about 45-90 days. It really depends on the curing conditions

matt said...

Jason - I had a question for you. I got a 1/2 leg of lamb given to me. I have noticed that the main leg bone has been cut through (across the bone) to make it half leg of lamb - the joint on one end, this cut on the other. The whole thing weighs about 4lb.

I wanted to cure it bone in, not rolled. Would you consider the exposed cut end of the bone a problem? All leg recipes I have seen (prosciutto really) call for a whole leg.. I wondered if the cut would be a problem.

Jasonmolinari said...

Matt, i think it should work..i do have some concerns regarding the exposed and cut through bone though

matt said...

perhaps I should just cure the thing boned out, and rolled like you suggest as being better.

Have you ever had any problems with air pockets?

Jasonmolinari said...

yes, i have...you have to be very careful to make it as tight as possible and try to remove all the air pockets.

matt said...

I just got to try the lamb bresaola I did last month. Fantastic stuff.

I used your recipe, and did the roll as you suggested. The leg separated itself into three pieces. Each piece I rolled separately. 2 of the 3 did great, 1 has some case hardening that might be the death of it.

Fantastic recipe mate, I love this stuff!

Finest Butcher said...

This sounds pretty spectacular. I happened across your blog when I was looking into weather anybody cured and roasted lamb. I didn’t find any recipes so I experimented and it was very good! Recipe and ingredients here:- http://www.finestbutcher.net/recipes/2011/03/27/57-home-cured-lamb-with-sundried-tomato-lime-and-mint-salsa

Jasonmolinari said...

That sounds good Finest Butcher!

Nano said...

I want to dry cure bone in whole leg of lamb, is this possible ? shall i remove all the protective fat layer also ? is brine better for such issue or dry rub?

Jasonmolinari said...

Nano, bone in should work. Follow what i did for my goat prosciutto:

I like to stick to dry rubs. I understand the math better...i would leave some fat on it..just not too thick.

Unknown said...

Hi Jason,
A question for you on the lamb prosciutto - what percentage weight loss should I be looking for during curing time? Thanks very much.
Jon L.

Jasonmolinari said...

boneless somewhere around 30-40%...how much exactly is personal preference.

Unknown said...

Jason thank you very much for your reply!
Jon L

Unknown said...

Jason, another question for you. I have a small boneless lamb in the curing chamber. 2 pieces, one 350g and one 900g to start. Can I expect them to be at 35% loss sooner than if they were larger? I'm guessing the smallest will take 2 weeks total and the larger will take 3 weeks. They are both in collagen casings and the chamber is at 52deg and 73% humidity. Thanks for your help.
Jon L

Jasonmolinari said...

Smaller pieces will generally take less time than larger pieces, but i'd be surprised if they're ready in 2/3 weeks, that would be pretty quick.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the reply Jason. I will just keep an eye on them.
Jon L

Unknown said...

If you were going to get a cut of lamb to grind yourself for something like this, what cut would have an appropriate amount of fat to use? Thanks!

Lamb Salami Astoria

Jasonmolinari said...

I would use a lean piece of lamb, shoulder or leg, and pork fat as the fat, like i did for my goat salame:

go with 20-30% fat depending on your preference.