Working with Prosciutto

SimplySmartDinnerPlans member Stephanie, asks:

I need some pointers on how to handle/work with prosciutto.  We’ve been loving the tilapia recipes this week.  I had bought a little package of what I thought was good quality prosciutto (thin sliced). When I opened it up last night to wrap the tilapia, I found the prosciutto so thin that it tore. 

The packaging had plastic separators between the pieces.  I thought I just needed to slow down and tried rolling it, like pie crust – thinking I could unroll it to wrap on the fish, but that just ended in a bunched up pieces of prosciutto. 

Luckily I had more in the package than I needed, so I was OK with a few “ruined” pieces.  In the end I just ended up with some holes in it and did the best I could to place it on the fish.  It may have hurt the presentation, but it didn’t take away from the flavor.

Just was left thinking there must be a better way . . . thought I’d ask.  Also could you recommend something to do with the mangled pieces of prosciutto I have left?

The flavor on this dinner was excellent!  We loved the potatoes in herb vinaigrette and the bell peppers with basil.  I’m so looking forward to my lunch of left-overs!   

Thank you,



Stephanie, thanks for your email!

Glad you enjoyed the prosciutto wrapped tilapia, it’s a great combination!


Prosciutto is made from either a pig’s or a wild boar’s ham (hind leg or thigh). The process of making prosciutto can take anywhere from nine months to two years, depending on the size of the ham. Sliced prosciutto crudo in Italian cuisine is often served as an antipasto, wrapped around grissini, or accompanied with melon. It is also eaten as accompaniment to cooked spring vegetables, such as asparagus or peas. It may be included in a simple pasta sauce made with cream, or a Tuscan dish of tagliatelle and vegetables.

It is used in stuffing for other meats, such as veal, as a wrap around veal, steak, of fish, in a filled bread, or as a pizza topping.

I love prosciutto, but it can be a lot like my four-year-old daughter…having an inherent ability to be absolutely wonderful and completely frustrating at the same time, lol.

First of all, as far as what I would do with those “shreds”…either toss with some scrambled eggs with sauteed mushrooms and wilted baby spinach, or (my favorite) cube some cantaloupe, honeydew, and pears, toss with prosciutto and maybe some arugula, and serve immediately.

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Each slice is cut thin enough to be almost translucent. Slices are lain side by side, barely overlapping, on deli paper. Once one sheet is covered with a single layer of ham, another sheet is lain on top and the process repeats until the desired weight of the order is achieved.

The overlapping and thinness are vitally important. The thinness is what gives a good prosciutto its texture, which is silky and unlike any other deli meat. The overlapping is what makes it possible to work with in the kitchen.

As the meat is sliced so thin, the individual slices are exceptionally delicate. When there is too much overlap, the slices will stick together and become difficult to separate without tearing.

Here’s a couple of ways to do it.

Assuming the prosciutto has been refrigerated, zap it in the microwave for 8-10 seconds, then separate the slices. It’s not perfect but it’s easier.

Or, stick the prosciutto in the freezer for about a half hour, it’ll be a lot easier to peel off slices. Also, use a very sharp, thin fillet knife, or boning knife to lift each slice from one end. You’ll have a lot better chance of keeping the slice whole, than if you try picking at it with your fingers.

Much like my daughter…whatever effort is required, doesn’t even compare to the reward.


-Chef Perry