La Quercia is a company which makes superb prosciutto in Iowa. Inspired by Iberian ham and Iowa oaks, they tried out their first Acorn Edition prosciutto a couple of years ago, by subscription only, for the whole pig. The pigs, raised organically, were fed on acorns for the last several months of their lives. It was such a gamble that the family whose company it is had none left over to try for themselves. It was a success among their customers, however. The next year, and a second Acorn Edition. This time, they'd left enough for themselves. Alas, communication gone awry at the slaughterhouse meant that they needed every bit of extra they'd allowed. Again, none for them to try until a generous customer brought them a few slices.
A third year, and finally, finally, there was extra, above and beyond the advanced subscription. The legs were trimmed and hung, beginning the aging process which turns them into prosciutto. Those trimmings found a home in a sausage-making party my parents went to. And my parents were generous enough to save their portion of the group-made sausages for when C. and I were visiting over Christmas.
They were tender, gently rich, a well-rounded, somewhat deeper flavor supported by added fennel. My memory of them has a slight smoothness, from higher fat content than usual. They were a rare and wonderful experience. A single one, left over, provides depth and character to a pasta dish the next day all by itself.
Technically, they were not organic. No sausages are in the U.S., I'm told, even if they claim otherwise. They're allowed to claim they are so long as only the casing isn't; organic casings are not, at this point, available there.
There's a famous sausage shop in Clitheroe where C.'s family always goes when they're in town. Usually, the line stretches out the door with people from miles around waiting to buy them from among the large selection they have to offer.
We'd forgotten, somehow, that the freezer still held some from the last time C. went to the sausage shop, a couple of months ago. Tonight we cooked them for dinner. The Edisford sausages are pleasant all-rounders, pork with a touch of nutmeg. The price-list calls them "Tasty but conventional"; this from a shop where conventional still means that they have no filler in them. They came out from under the grill beautifully darkened, nearly crisp - but not burnt - on the outside, tender and meaty within.
We're going back to Clitheroe in a few weeks. It may be time to stock up again.