The name Bazzone comes from the particular elongated shape of this ham that has a 12cm to 18cm space between the bone and the bottom. This feature resembles the “bazzo”, a term from local dialect meaning a very prominent chin. The traditional production of Bazzone ham (“Prosciutto Bazzone” in Italian) is typical of the mountain regions of Media Valle del Serchio and Garfagnana and dates back to the end of 1800, when people used to breed semi-open herding local grey-furred pigs in order to produce cured meats, an essential protein source for the large peasant families.
The pigs eat farro flour products (farro is a typical cereal from Garfagnana), fallen apples, pears, chestnuts, acorns and “scotta”, the waste product from the local cheese factories. Nowadays, like in the past, pigs are slaughtered when they reach a weight of 180-200 kg, at about 2 months of age having spent most of their lives outside. The thigh is trimmed to make its shape rounder, then cured with salt for 2-3 months during which time it is also massaged several times. After removing the excess salt, the ham is washed, dried off and left to season.
The Prosciutto Bazzone Slow Food Presidio (the “Presidi” are Slow Food projects that safeguard small quality productions, made according to traditions) reunites three producers who took up the challenge of rebuilding the entire production process to guarantee both the pigs’ origin and their healthy diet. This process is completed to the specific terms which regulate the traditional production process, which obviously doesn’t include the use of additives and preservatives, and with the mandatory seasoning of the products carried out in natural facilities and cellars for no less than 20 months.
The Bazzone ham needs to be cut with a knife not just because of its huge size but also to enhance its many sensory characteristics. Right after it is cut, you can smell the acorn, moss, chestnut and walnuts. The intense flavour is slightly zesty and is ideally served with the traditional potato bread of Garfagnana. The Bazzone is a savoury ham, perfect as a starter served with slightly grilled porcini mushrooms, hot fried polenta bites, pecorino cheese of medium seasoning or seasoned goat cheese.