Thursday, December 07, 2006

Prosciutto and how to use it

Errata: When I originally wrote this post I had a bit of a brain freeze and talked about pancetta when - of course - I meant prosciutto ham. Duh! Sorry...

When I first started out on the Candida Diet I was told that I couldn't have smoked or cured meat in any circumstances. The idea being that cured meat has been hanging around in an environment conducive to yeast and mould growth. I've always felt a bit ambivalent towards this prohibition. After all, how much meat these days in cured or smoked in a shed or up a chimney, with no environmental/hygiene controls whatsoever? And wouldn't heating/cooking kill off any organisms which had managed to colonise my rasher of bacon, or slice of smoked salmon?

Over the two years since, these restrictions have been relaxed slightly (not least because I have a different nutritional therapist now): I'm now allowed to eat cured or smoked meat occasionally - mainly because there is a school of thought which considers the chemical changes that occur during curing/smoking as potentially carcinogenic. Nevertheless, the other day - as a treat - I bought myself some prosciutto from Marks & Spencers no least! ;)

Good prosciutto or parma ham should be okay - it shouldn't contain anything but pork, salt and possibly a bit of water. The only thing I found was that it did taste incredibly salty, which I think is a result of me re-educating my taste buds since I went on the diet. Anyway, apart from in a sandwich (made with soda bread) I did come up with a few ideas on how to use the rest of the pack.

Potato farls* with prosciutto and goats cheese

A couple of potato farls or pancakes
Two slices of prosciutto
grated hard goats cheese

Slice each farl/pancake width-ways. Place the farls cut side up on a baking tray/grill pan and toast under a grill for a couple of minutes. Remove, and on top of each farl place half a slice of prosciutto and some grated cheese. Place back under the grill and cook until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown.

Delicious! But packed full of calories. ;)

(Sort-of) Pasta Carbonara

Okay, this isn't anything like a real carbonara, but it's kind of the same idea.

Sufficient pasta shells/spaghetti for one person
2/3 slices of prosciutto
goats milk/soya milk
olive oil spread
salt & pepper
Goats cheese
olive oil

Put a saucepan of water on to boil. Add a spot of olive oil to the pan to prevent the pasta from sticking together. When boiling, add the pasta, cover and simmer until al dente. Meanwhile make a white sauce (add a dessert spoonful of cornflour to a pan, with a knob of olive oil spread and a dash of milk - whisk until smooth and cook on a low heat, whisking all the time to prevent the sauce from burning/going lumpy. Gradually add more milk until the sauce is a good consistency). Take off the heat and add the grated cheese, a sprinkle of paprika and salt and pepper to taste (remember, the prosciutto and cheese will be quite salty, so you may not need to add much salt).

Drain the pasta and put back in the saucepan. Tear up the slices of prosciutto into strips and add to the pasta along with the cheese sauce. Give it a good stir and serve.

*I thought that I'd written about potato farls/pancakes/bread before in this blog, but it turns out I haven't, so here goes. Potato farls tend to be candida diet-friendly (with caution). Predominantly made from potato, they do include a small amount of plain wheatflour and occasionally (as is the case with Marks & Spencer's version), vinegar. As ever, it's important to check the ingredients list, and if there's anything you're not sure about, it's best to leave it on the shelf.

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