Today we’re talking all about this prosciutto piadina, what inspired it, and why it’s so special.
I recently headed to Spiaggia to chat with Chef Joe Flamm, the executive chef (and also the latest winner of Top Chef…he is seriously the best) all about the restaurant’s approach to Italian cooking and why having such a high-quality prosciutto is so important to them.
And the best part? I’ve created a recipe inspired by the whole experience, so you can have a little taste of Italy in your own homes.
After years of cooking professionally, Joe joined the Spiaggia team under the mentorship of Chef-Partner Tony Mantuano. The two spent time eating their way through Italy, soaking in everything they could to bring back to Chicago. Joe talked about how Italian cooking is all about preserving and honoring the integrity of simple, regional ingredients. Back when Spiaggia opened in 1984, it was really the first Italian restaurant in the city to do just that.
Now, Joe is carving out his own style at Spiaggia, which he referred to as “regionally by seasonally” – when it’s warmer he’ll incorporate a southern Italian influence and during the winter the menu will shift to the north. The whole idea is to be extremely tuned in to the classic, authentic influences and ingredients of Italy, while still being able to put a fine-dining spin on each dish.
With this approach, every menu is elegant and of the highest quality, yet still extremely approachable. The goal is to satiate every guest who eats the food, while still impressing them at the same time.
And a lot of that impressing comes from the quality of ingredients.
One of the dishes on Spiaggia’s menu is “Emilia Romagna on a Plate” – a rustic dish of gnocco fritto, Prosciutto di Parma, parmesan fonduta, and balsamico. Joe walked me through the process…he rolled and shaped the dough, fried it until puffed and crisped ever so slightly, spooned a luscious swirl of fonduta onto the plate, topped the gnocco fritto with perfectly sliced prosciutto, and finished everything with an 8-year aged balsamic.
It was stunning.
The Prosciutto di Parma adds to the authenticity of this dish. It’s produced in Parma, Italy, a city in the region of Emilia Romagna. It’s such a special product with a flavor that is subtle and intense all at the same time.
Prosciutto di Parma comes from specially-bred pigs who have been raised with very high standards. The addition of sea salt, air, and time (a minimum of 400 days) allows the pork to perfectly age and develop a superior flavor to any other prosciutto. It’s rich, buttery, and basically melts in your mouth.
In the dish, the nuttiness of the parmesan and the sweetness of the balsamic work extremely well with the prosciutto to create something beautifully balanced.
So, what I’ve done is mimic the flavors and regional concept of Emilia Romagna on a Plate with something you can easily make at home. I made piadina, which along with Spiaggia’s gnocco fritto, is typical of the Emilia Romagna region. It’s a rustic Italian flatbread, made with just a few simple ingredients and cooked in a hot skillet until golden.
I’m topping it with an easy-to-make parmesan fonduta, the Prosciutto di Parma of course, and then a sweet compote of grapes that have been cooked down in balsamic and honey until syrupy. It all comes together into this swoon-worthy dish that I’ve been loving as an appetizer or even a light dinner.
While nothing can ever beat dining at Spiaggia, this dish hits all the right notes in the best possible way.
I hope you love this recipe and all of the inspiration that comes with it!
The best way to find authentic Prosciutto di Parma is to look for the Parma Crown stamp or ask for Parma Crown the next time you’re shopping. That way you know it’s the real deal.
- 1 lb grapes
- ½ cup balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup honey
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 oz freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 2 ¼ tsp baking powder
- 2 oz lard (or vegetable shortening), softened
- ¾ cup warm water
- ¼ cup warm milk
- olive oil, as needed
- 6 oz thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
- extra parmesan cheese to grate as a garnish
- 1. Combine the grapes, balsamic vinegar, water, and honey in a small saucepan.
- 2. Stir the mixture and let it come to a boil over medium-high heat.
- 3. Reduce the heat to low and let the liquid simmer until it’s syrupy and the grapes have burst, abut 20-25 minutes.
- 4. Turn off the heat and reserve until serving.
- 1. Meanwhile, add the cream to a medium saucepan. Bring the cream to a simmer over medium heat.
- 2. Reduce the heat to low and let the cream gently simmer for 8 minutes.
- 3. Gradually add the freshly grated parmesan cheese, whisking until fully incorporated.
- 4. Let the fonduta cook for 2 more minutes over the lowest possible heat.
- 5. Transfer the fonduta to a heat-safe bowl. Continue to whisk often as the fonduta cools so it stays nice and smooth. It should be served warm.
- 1. While the grapes and fonduta are working, start the piadina dough by combining the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
- 2. Add the softened lard (or shortening) and work it into the dry ingredients using your fingertips. You want to somewhat “rub” the lard into the flour so that you’re left with a crumb-like mixture (it is fine to have lumps).
- 3. Make a well in the mixture and pour in the warm water and milk. Use a wooden spoon or your hands to incorporate the liquid into the dry ingredients until a dough comes together.
- 4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth.
- 5. Roll the dough into a log and divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Cover the dough balls with a towel and let rest at room temperature for 5 minutes.
- 6. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add enough olive oil to just barely coat the bottom.
- 7. Roll one dough ball out at a time until it’s about 1/8” thick. Lift the dough circle and place it into the hot oil. Cook on both sides until golden brown.
- 8. Season with a good pinch of salt. Transfer the piadina to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat the process to cook all of the dough.
- Spread the warm parmesan fonduta onto the piadina. Delicately arrange 4-5 slices of prosciutto on top of each. Spoon the balsamic grapes (plus the syrupy liquid) over top. Grate extra parmesan cheese as a finishing touch. Eat immediately.
[This post is sponsored by The Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma. I love working with and supporting brands who offer wonderful products that align with my style of cooking and food philosophies. All opinions are my own.]