Herb and Kathy Eckhouses' Iowa cured hams, made under the name La Quercia, have a bit more in common with Italian prosciutto than they do with Southern American smoked country ham (like Sam Edwards' Berkshire Ham). The cure is just salt—no smoke, no other spices added.
Most prosciutto makers use standard-breed white pigs that live outdoors and are given conventional feed. La Quercia's hams come from heirloom breeds that have an indoor and outdoor life. In this particular case, the hogs are 100 percent Berkshires, pasture fed exclusively on grass and organic feed from Jude Becker's famed Iowa farm. Herb feels the breed and lifestyle impart a greater effect on flavor than where the ham is made or how long it's aged. After tasting a lot of La Quercia's ham, it's hard not to agree. This is cured ham of the highest caliber, a match for Europe's best.
It makes a stellar addition to an hors d'ouerve plate, an enlightened late-night snack and, for the pork-a-phile you know, a great gift.
"The best prosciutto, imported or domestic, you can get in America."
Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue
Serve at room temperature.
Sliced comes in nitrogen-sealed bags that last for several months.
Ships at ambient temperature. Store refrigerated.