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Parma Ham--Do You Eat the "White" Part?

That's basically it. There's the rich, red central meat part, and then there's the white or pale pink "fat" surrounding the edge. Is it proper to trim this off before you serve it, or self trim and leave on the plate once you've been served?


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  1. Are you kidding!!, that's the best part with a lot of flavor and texture. Don't trim ever! just eat and enjoy.

    1. Ever try lardo? It's pure white fatback salted and dried like prosciutto (and herbed). Sliced thin and served on bread like pig butter. Sometimes called (in the US) "Prosciutto Bianco" , but I know (and recommend) it.

        1. Agree with all other posts... and I'm not sure why you used quotations around the word fat. It's plain and simple: it is fat.

          And to help answer your questions it is not proper to leave the leftover fat on your plate. Anyone who does, frankly shouldn't be buying or eating the ham.

          4 Replies
          1. re: HaagenDazs

            Well, it TASTED better that regular fat to TT, which is why I put it in quotes. That was the thing, some people ate it, while others trimmed and left it on the plate. It was served as a starter over a recent dinner.


            1. re: TexasToast

              Some people also cut the rind off of Brie and leave it on their plates. I haven't found many items served in restaurants which are not supposed to be eaten in their entirety, save stones/pits or shells.

              I'm sure that at least one of my friends--seeing the weath of flavour left on the plates--would request that the fat be passed over so they could consume it.

              1. re: TexasToast

                "others trimmed and left it on the plate"

                Perhaps instruction is in order next time.

                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  In my experience the fat phobic can't be instructed. A friend of mine cut fat from her diet to the point of having gastrointestinal problems. A doctor had to tell her that she wasn't eating enough fat. She would never have listened to a lesser authority.

            2. It's not "fat" it's FAT. The best part. Not eating it is to miss the point. Wasting it is a high food crime for which you will be sentenced never to be allowed near another great ham.

              18 Replies
              1. re: Karl S

                Exactly - this stuff isn't for your kid's lunch box ham sandwich... this is high quality pork and it should be savored as such. I stick to my original point which is to say that if you need to ask these kinds of questions, you should not have spent the money on such a ham.

                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  See above, it was a general question, though pure fat that it is, it can't be terribly good for you can it?


                  1. re: TexasToast

                    Soda isn't terribly good for you either but I'd be willing to bet that most people have a sugar-laden soda on occasion.

                    1. re: TexasToast

                      It's *better* than "terribly good" for you. It's *wonderful* for you. Dear heaven, there's less fat calories in a few slivers of Parma ham fat than there is in your average dressed salad. People have lost all reason when it comes to fat. Sigh.

                        1. re: Karl S

                          In total agreement with you. Besides, there's no trans fat in Parma, so it should be considered a health food in NYC.

                          1. re: Caralien

                            Nor is there HFCS. Heavens, it's spa food!

                        2. re: TexasToast

                          Fat, from procuitto not good for you?? How about that twinky you had at break today? You should continue to acquire a taste for this style of ham. As for your friends trimming that fat off, maybe they should stick to domestic, eh, processed boiled ham that comes in a rectangle ready for white bread.

                          1. re: cstr

                            TT does not eat Twinkies. I didn't think it was bad, it just a question.


                          2. re: TexasToast

                            Fat isn't neccessarily bad for you. We all need it in our diet.

                          3. re: HaagenDazs

                            I wouldn't discourage such questions. This is how we learn. I'm glad the OP asked and now they know - eat it and enjoy!

                            1. re: lynnlato

                              We learn before we buy such things. Do you just go out on a whim and buy a vintage Bordeaux to see if we like red wine?

                              1. re: HaagenDazs

                                My husband and I didn't do that with Bordeaux, but we certainly did with caviar, and I look forward to doing it with truffles as well...

                                1. re: kali_MM

                                  It was in a restaurant. It was served that way. It was not my first time. I noticed others take the fat off. Hence, my question. BTW, Caviar and truffles taste wonderful.


                                2. re: HaagenDazs

                                  If you aren't experimenting blindly at all, you are missing out on a lot of fun.

                                  1. re: BeaN

                                    There's hardly such a thing as cheap caviar (maybe as a sushi ingredient like flying fish roe or salmon roe) or cheap truffles. You either have to buy it & try it or you don't.

                                    Look, I'm all for experimenting, enjoying and trying the most elaborate and unique treats this world has to offer but when you refer to parma ham and call fat the "white part" not even knowing exactly what it is, I find it rather hilarious and I will poke fun accordingly.

                                    1. re: HaagenDazs

                                      Well I have experienced love at first bite at times when I couldn't have articulated that I was eating ham, much less the white part. When you get the chance to try something, sometimes you don't get the opportunity to do research in advance. I'm a librarian; I understand the value of educating oneself. I also value educating myself through spontaneous experience.

                                      I also don't see any reference to cheap caviar or truffles.

                                  2. re: HaagenDazs

                                    " We learn before we buy such things." Says who? Chowhound is a forum to help others find and explore food.

                                    I was given a bottle of '82 margaux before I knew much about wine. Despite my inexperienced palate, when I tasted it I knew it was an exceptional vintage and it still rates as the finest wine to ever have passed my lips.

                            2. I always always ask my butcher to leave the white part on (as much as possible) for my prosciutto. One time the guy at Whole Foods tried to trim all the lardo outside before slicing the prosciutto. I almost jumped over the counter to stop him! I LOVE that stuff.

                              1. I would agree with others that the fat is the best part, and must be eaten.

                                I would throw in one caveat. I know that when we get jamon iberico, the very outer layer of the fat is trimmed off, the part on the outside that is in contact with air during aging. This part can have an off-flavour, and so they slice off the outermost layers of the fat but leave the inner layers for eating. I would suspect they do the same thing with Parma ham. But I also suspect that if you buy it pre-packaged, it has already been trimmed. I have never had to trim extra fat off pre-packaged slices, and I have not noticed off-flavours from rancid fat on these slices.

                                Hoo daddy! I'm salivating just thinking about this stuff.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: moh

                                  Hi moh,
                                  I think to better phrase it, the butcher should trim off the "skin", not the fat :)

                                  Though you can still get those trimmed skin and fat from your butcher. Wash them slightly and use them to flavor your stock. It is a good thing ;D

                                  1. re: kobetobiko

                                    Fair enough! Skin is more accurate. And I bet the trimmings would be great for stock! I have often fantasized about buying an entire proscuitto or jamon iberico and using the scraps and bits in stocks and stews. The thought of an entire leg of ham in my kitchen is so exciting...

                                    1. re: moh

                                      Oh I am so with you on the whole leg. The things that are stopping me are 1) I need to get a commercial ham slicer to get the ultra thin ham and that will cost me more than the ham and 2) No space in my small apartment in Manhattan!

                                      1. re: kobetobiko

                                        I was lucky enough to get the next best thing, a whole jambon cru from Bayonne, as a gift earlier this year. I kept all the trimmings, skin and all, and used every last bit for sauteed dishes, potatoes and soups. It was a delicious and exciting experience. (And don't ask how the ham managed to get through customs!)

                                        About the slicing. Good ham tastes even better when sliced thick, which I did reasonably well with a good bread knife.

                                        1. re: tarteaucitron

                                          Tarteaucitron, I obviously need to travel with you... and learn all the tricks! What a decadent gift!

                                          I would comment that I do think there are uses for hams like procscuitto, presunto and jamon serrano/iberico that benefit from a thick cut slice, But there is something about the razor thin slices that is so luxurious and heavenly that I would totally understand the need for a commercial ham slicer or what not to get this result. It is so ethereal when it is cut thin, the fat starts to melt the minute it hits your tongue, and the meat has a lovely silky texture. It is worth the expense, well at least in my books. Not that I have invested in a commercial ham slicer, but still..

                                          The one time I had a hunk of iberico in the house, we took it to our local butcher and asked them to slice it (which they were kind enough to do without charge - they asked to try some, and we also bought other meat from them), and then we had a jamon feeding frenzy until every slice was gone. Yum. My hips are still recovering from the weight load.

                                          1. re: moh

                                            You described the experience of eating jamon/prosciutto/presunto thinly sliced perfectly! Sadly, there are very few folks here in Charlotte NC that have perfected thinly slicing these hams. It's criminal what I've seen. We have very few butchers here but the tides they are a' turning. More NEerns are moving down every day (myself from PA moved down 12 yrs ago) so I'm hopeful that butchers will soon abound! Until then, it's off to Dean & DeLuca I must go.

                                            Incidentally, the presunto I had in Portugal was always served in thicker slices (see photo). But I do prefer the thin slices.

                                            1. re: lynnlato

                                              Nice picture of presunto! Yes, now that I think about it, presunto tends to be sliced thicker. It is a heartier beast, presunto. And there is something great about hunks of ham, I like it that way too...

                                  2. re: moh

                                    You always want to buy this sort of product in a shop that has a high turnover, so your proscicutto hasn’t been sitting around long enough for the fat to get rancid. The skin is called "cotenna" and those pieces of skin that are trimmed off can be used in fagioli con le cotiche (cotiche being pork rinds—the name changes when the cotenna actually becomes a food). My Roman mother-in-law (the Bean Queen) does a whole song and dance with the cotiche, scraping and soaking, before she cooks them with the beans, but none of us have ever seen this performance. This year we're going to tape it however.

                                    1. re: mbfant

                                      OOH! I would watch that video on You Tube!

                                  3. Pickin' up a pound today - not shaved, but sliced oh so thin. We'll eat every little bit - especially the fat. mmm mmm good :)

                                    1. "Do you eat the white part?"

                                      I'm no food Nazi so I'd say it's entirely up to you. If you eat the fat on other meats (as I do), you'll be happy eating the fat on this. If you don't, don't.

                                      1. Wow, 30 posts without a dissenting point of view - a first in my Chowhound experience. May I make it 31; I like the smooth mouthfeel the fat adds. I dream to someday have a whole iberico ham on that spindle contraption, and have friends and family slice /nibble it away through a holiday season.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          (I bet your all fat then) J/K. Well, in future, I shall give stern looks to anyone who defats a slice.