Cuneo Raw Ham: the secret of quality

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The Consortium for the Protection and valorisation of this ham was founded in 1988 at the behest of some local entrepreneurs, who wanted to enhance a product which risked to disappear in the middle of a local production mostly dedicated to the selling of Parma and San Daniele hams.

The raw and seasoned ham of Cuneo is a butchery product, which is obtained from the processing of fresh legs of pigs belonging to the Italian Large White, Landrace and  Duroc breeds. The shape of this ham is roundish, with no trotter and with haunch bone. Slices are evenly red in the lean parts and white in the fat ones. The texture is compact and tender, the aroma is sweet and fragrant and at the end of the seasoning period these hams weight between 8.5 and 12 kg.

The area of production includes the provinces of Cuneo and Asti and 54 municipalities of the Turin province. The pigs must be born, bred and slaughtered in one of these territories. In this areas there is a perfect microclimate for seasoning of the hams, which can be stored also in natural cellars, without air conditioning systems. The combined action of humans and climate factors give to this products unique quality features.

The entire process of production is handcrafted.

A craft process

The animals must be at least 8 months old before the slaughter, then the legs are refrigerated to be ready for the salting. This part of the process is made with dry salt or partly humidified, with no preservatives. The salt can be mixed with a pinch of black pepper, spices and vinegar. The salting lasts at least two weeks, in this way the humidity reaches the surface of the ham and gives to it the organoleptic features that make it famous. After a resting period which lasts at least 50 days, hams are ready for the washing. This a very important phase which helps to tone the meat. Maturation: this phase lasts about 10 months, starting from the salting of the hams, and it must be carried out in places  with optimum ventilation conditions. In this phase on the lean surface of the hams the humidity on the surface increases, favouring the growth of yeasts, that are fundamental not only to create the particular taste and smell of the finished product but also to guarantee a better degree of  digestibility. After the maturationhams undergo to a process of smearing several times.This process, called “sugnatura”, involves smearing the surface meat with a paste made of lard and rice sometimes mixed with white or black pepper powder. The entire process of production is handcrafted.

The origins

The origins of the pork legs processing in these areas dates back to the XVII century. In the past the slaughter of the pigs happened at the end of the winter and in these days farmer families were very happy because it was a fundamental part of their tradition. The “sautissé” (an expert butcher) went in each farmhouses of the village to choose the better pork legs, which he bought, salted and seasoned in his cellars to have the best hams to sell the following year. After the second half of the XX century the ham of Cuneo became more important because the bourgeoisie asked tailored recipes to the butchers and to the sausages sellers, who were the founders of the handicraft butcheries and so the chefs began to pair this ham with fine wine and cheeses.

The Consortium

Chiara Astesana, president of the Consortium

In 1998 a group of entrepreneurs of the pig production chain, founded the Consortium for the Protection and the Promotion of the Raw Ham of Cuneo and then asked the PDO (Protected Denomination Origin) recognition for this product to valorise the high number of pigs bred in this area for the ham production. The Consortium obtained the PDO recognition from the European Union in 2009 with the aim to enhance and protect this product, which has risked to disappear, on the Italian and foreign markets through advertising, press and promotional activities. The President of the Consortium is Chiara Astesana, who guarantees the protection and the correct use of the PDO recognition and its linked brands to fight against any unlawful use and any act of unfair competition regarding its marketing.

The PDO recognition links three elements of the area of production: the shape of the ham reminds the pointed shape of the mountains and the structure of the Cuneo city itself.  The colour of the logo represents the province, whose flag colours are red, light blue, white and green disposed on a triangular label which wraps the hams.

The productive chain of the Raw Ham of Cuneo is one of the shortest in Italy: 60 km of a closed circle. The categories which are involved in the making process are: breeders, slaughters, salting and seasoning ham workshops, positioners and packers. Currently about 60 breeders, 2 slaughters and one ham maturation workshop have joined the control system of the PDO of Cuneo.

Perfect pairings

We suggest you to slice the Raw Ham Cuneo PDO only few minutes before the consume and to store them wrapped in a food paper to prevent it from air and light that dry the surface. It is superlative served as starter, but even paired with other cured meats and local cheeses. Enhance its taste eating it with melon, kiwi, figs. It is perfect with a local white wine such as the Timorasso.

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The Consortium for the Protection and Valorisation of Raw ham of Cuneo

Corso Dante A. 51 – 12100 Cuneo
Tel. 0171/94.20.08