Some specialty ingredients, such as prosciutto, the Italian cured ham, can be quite expensive, demanding consideration when we buy them. Which is why a recent shopping blunder left me feeling quite foolish.
For a braised pork recipe, I needed a few ounces of prosciutto, cut into a chunk, instead of the usual thin slices. But when I explained to the butcher how I wanted it cut, I asked for too much. My half-inch-thick slab came out to nearly a pound and $24. Ouch.
Back home, though, it dawned on me how to turn a budget breaker into a freezer treasure. I cut the slab into smaller slabs, about 2 ounces each. The extra, after setting aside what I needed for the pork loin, went into the freezer, there to rest until needed to flavor a pasta, such as this linguine dish.
To freeze prosciutto slabs, place them in a small zippered bag, then lay the bag flat in the freezer.
No need to thaw the prosciutto. Cut it into 1/4-inch-thick sticks and throw into the skillet. The pieces will be thin enough to thaw quickly as they cook.
Any medium-bodied Italian red will work (Chianti, negroamaro, etc.), but also an Argentine malbec, which I find works well with Italian flavors.
LINGUINE WITH PROSCIUTTO, RADICCHIO AND ARUGULA
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Makes: 2 servings
½ pound linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce piece prosciutto in a chunk, cut into 1/4-inch sticks
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup white or red wine
4 canned plum tomatoes, chopped
1 head radicchio, halved, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch shreds
2 cups baby arugula
Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil; cook the linguine according to package directions. Drain.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto; cook until fat renders a bit and pieces soften, 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Cook until onions soften, 5 minutes. Add wine and tomatoes; stir in radicchio. Season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon of the salt.
Cover; simmer until radicchio wilts, 10 minutes. Stir the pasta into the sauce. Serve with arugula sprinkled over the top.