La Quercia’s prosciutto has been called America’s greatest ham by several critics. None other than the famed food writer Jeffrey Steingarten called it “the best prosciutto domestic or imported you can get in America.”
So, where does this legendary prosciutto come from? Smack dab in the middle of the heartland — Des Moines, Iowa, to be precise.
Herb and Kathy Eckhouse started La Quercia in 2000. The next year they began making prosciutto to Italian standards with meat from American pigs. After experimenting for three years, they brought it to market in 2004. One of just a few American curing houses to make Italian-style prosciutto, they produced one that rivals top European exports such as prosciutto di Parma.
The Eckhouse’s have been committed to the highest standard of animal welfare. They ensure that not only have the pigs been raised without antibiotics but that they’ve also been pastured. They believe that not only is it humane, but also a critical part of how good the cured meat is.
At Pagliacci, the moment we tasted the delicate, savory-sweet meat, we knew we had to use it with well-balanced layers of flavor to complement it's tenderness.
You can try La Quercia prosciutto this month on our seasonal Chanterelle Prosciutto, which features the prize-winning meat with golden chanterelles from Foraged and Found Edibles. The mushrooms’ earthy taste complements the gentle saltiness of the prosciutto. Over a bed of creamy mozzarella and an olive oil and garlic base, it’s a delight.
We are also introducing a new seasonal pie, the Autumn Harvest. This new pie stars Delicata squash from Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center. The squash is roasted to bring out its natural sweetness, which pairs beautifully with slightly bitter shreds of Brussels sprouts, which we roast in garlic, olive oil and red pepper flakes. We layer the squash and sprouts on mozzarella over an olive oil base. A dusting of Parmesan goes on as the pie comes out of the oven. This savory autumn treat will remind you just how good the late autumn harvest can be.
And since long, dark evenings should always feature dessert, we’d be remiss if we failed to mention our seasonal gelato: Maple Pecan! Pecans are another late-autumn harvest treat. Using pecan pie as a flavor palate, Gelatiamo caramelizes the fresh pecans to bring out their buttery flavor and sweetens the gelato with rich organic maple syrup. If you’re a pecan pie lover, the result will leave you craving for more long after the last spoonful.