This recipe was created in partnership with Icons of European Taste, a joint promotional program to promote Prosciutto di Parma–whose cured hams I dream about on a regular basis-Grana Padano and Prosciutto di San Daniele.
For whatever reason, I didn’t grow up eating cured ham in my house.
You could say things changed drastically when the Pancake Man came into my life in terms of the frequency and devotion level with which I now embrace weekend charcuterie and breakfast bacon.
But really, my tastes evolved about 10 years ago when I was studying abroad in Rome. There, you didn’t go to the deli counter and get a pound of turkey for sandwiches. Instead, you chose from an array of giant hanging ham legs from various regions, each with its own texture, saltiness and funk.
Needless to say, I spent my semester falling out of love with a boy I left back home at college, and into the throes of a mad deep passion for prosciutto. I ate it in loose-leaf piles when I needed a lazy snack, wrapped it around figs for our collegiate version of a “fancy” dinner party with 5 euro jugs of wine, and papered ciabatta with thin slices for my lunches.
When I got back to the States, I realized how hard it was to find authentic prosciutto from the old country in most supermarkets, not that I could really afford it at the time. Now though, I know all the tricks for seeking it out. My usual go-to is to ask for Prosciutto di Parma, which is made with traditional methods using only two ingredients—pork and sea salt—and has a subtle salty, sweet flavor. At the deli counter, you can ask to see the Parma crown branded into the leg to ensure it’s the real deal. Or if you’re getting it pre-sliced, look for the large black triangle with the gold Parma Crown in the upper left corner of the package.
Since I’m legit “fancy” now, I recently came up with the ultimate holiday hors d’oeuvre: Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Grana Padano Red Onion Jam. The onion jam is one of my old catering tricks that takes a little bit of time at the stove, but keeps incredibly well for weeks. It’s silky, sweet and just the perfect savory compliment to the fresh figs and salty prosciutto. (I also like using it on rounds of puff pastry as a tartlette or as a topping for these polenta rounds).
In this version, each fig gets halved, stuffed with jam, wrapped up in a thin slice of Prosciutto di Parma and topped with another dusting of Grana Padano before getting crisped to perfection in the oven. You could also skip the crisping entirely and serve them uncooked if you don’t feel like messing with your oven at the party.
This app can be adjusted to be dairy-free, but the Grana Padano adds a lovely nuttiness to the jam that’s worth keeping. It’s Italy’s most popular hard grating cheese from a region in Northern Italy and is made using the same traditional methods used by the monks who created the cheese over 1000 years ago!
I like serving these little bites over a bed of arugula. You could also make them into a main course salad topper using a larger helping of greens.
If you’re looking for a holiday party finger food that’s easy to throw together, but a little extra special, you should give these Prosciutto di Parma wrapped figs a try!
With health and hedonism,
Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Grana Padano Red Onion Jam
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Make the jam: Combine the onion, butter and salt in a small saucepan with a lid. Sauté over medium-low heat, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, add the wine and vinegar and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring slightly more frequently, until there is no liquid left and the onions are soft and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of Grana Padano.
- Starting at the stem end, cut the figs partially in half, leaving the bottom end intact.
- Carefully tear each strip of prosciutto in half lengthwise and set aside.
- Fill each fig with 1 heaping teaspoon of red onion jam, then wrap the bottom half of the fig with a strip of prosciutto so you get a tight little package. Secure with a toothpick horizontally through the middle. I used longer skewers and did them in pairs.
- Arrange in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining cheese so it adheres to the red onion jam. Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the prosciutto is crispy and the cheese is lightly browned.
- Serve immediately, warm, over a bed or arugula for garnish.