I’ve been spending quite a bit of my time these days working on recipe development projects for various companies and restaurants, and while I very much enjoy it, the process pretty much sucks up all my creative juices leaving little for personal projects. And so goes the fates of this blog. It also fills my home with endless bags, tubs and boxes of ingredients. My apartment looks like a ransacked grocery store right now. First world problems. Appetizers, entrees, desserts, snacks, sauces … name it, I’ve done it in the last few months and have the leftover groceries to prove it. If there’s ever a zombie apocalypse, come over here. We’ll eat well for years.
As I like to do, a few weeks back I invited my friends over to celebrate one of my favorites, Polish Easter. It’s not a real holiday, more so a reason to gather my dear friends together, eat Polish food, drink too much and bust out the polka music. It’s great fun but it also necessitates two key things: cooking for pleasure and straightening up my disaster living situation. I often do this to myself on purpose. I fear my friends may report me to the producers of “Hoarders” if I don’t pick up and purge my home once in a while. A dinner party gives me a reason. It’s wacky logic, I know, but it works.
The menu was pretty much set, by both tradition and request: pierogies, sausage, snap peas with mint, garlicky mushrooms, a butter lamb, kolacky. But I needed something to start the meal, to snack on as my guests trickled in.
An hour before the scheduled arrival, I stared into my messy and overcrowded refrigerator. Ah yes, the ghosts of projects past. Wedges of cheese? Check. There were countless half filled jars of pickled things – tomatoes, cukes, green beans. Perfect. And way back there, on the bottom shelf, tucked between two bags of celery and the buttermilk was a packet of prosciutto; half used, poorly stored and completely forgotten. I sprung into action and cranked up the oven. Crispy, porky bits are always a crowd pleaser.
This is barely a recipe. More of a guide, really and it couldn’t be easier. Simply pop thin sheets of prosciutto in the oven and let it crisp. Ten minutes and you’re well on your way to a fabulous addition to your cheese platter.
While the prosciutto was crisping in the oven, I gathered the cheeses and pickled things. I dug through cabinets and bins and put together a helluva spread, filling in the spaces with nuts, dried fruit and a little pot of tomato chili jam from another half filled jar. I grabbed some crackers and piled the gorgeous shards of now crisp prosciutto in a corner of the platter. It was stunning and quickly devoured. Success on all counts. Not bad for pulling something together on the fly.
STRESS BAKING THERAPY FACTOR: HOSTESS WITH THE MOSTEST. Nothing gets a better response than a good snack assortment and putting one together is a talent that is easily achievable. You can make an impressive spread with 100% store-bought ingredients, but a few simple homemade items will elevate your game to a new level. Add a pretty stack of something like this crispy prosciutto and you’re a hero. No one can resist the allure of crunchy salty pork bits. This is a tenet that holds true in all cases.
on this blog six years ago: Roasted Tomato & Asparagus Quiche
on this blog five years ago: Homemade Saltines
on this blog four years ago: Garlic Roasted Potatoes
on this blog three years ago: Buttermilk Biscuits, Ramp Green Kimchi (I just made this again, yesterday!)
on this blog two years ago: Rendering Lard (for the best pie crusts)
on this blog last year: Guinness Creme Anglaise
other tasty additions to elevate your cheese platter game: Bacon Wrapped Dates, Spiced Pecans, Stovetop Smoked Salmon, Pickled Ramps, Sweet & Spicy Beer Mustard, Rhubarb Beer Jam, Prosciutto Stuffed Figs, Pimento Cheese, Quick & Easy Garlic Pickles, Tomato Chile Jam, Seeded Crackers, Pickled Green Cherry Tomatoes, Baked Brie with Fig Jam, Cheese Straws
Makes as much as you want. Or have. Or need.
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Heavy sheet pan
- Preheat the oven to 375°
- Line a sheet pan with parchment and carefully lay the slices of prosciutto on top, without overlapping or touching. Tip: packaged prosciutto usually comes with heavy waxed paper between the slices. Carefully separate the slices, leaving that paper intact on one side. Lay the prosciutto meat side down on the parchment lined pan. Carefully pull back the sheet of waxed paper. This is much easier than trying to arrange a flexible sheet of meat evenly on the sheet pan.
- Bake for 10-15 minutes until crispy, flipping the prosciutto carefully halfway through to ensure even crispness. If your prosciutto is fresh it will take a bit longer than if it’s been in the fridge for a while.
- Let cool. Eat.