Vallée d’Aoste Jambon de Bosses PDO is a raw and cured charcuterie product, obtained through the processing of fresh pig legs from animals belonging to the Large White, Landrace and Duroc Italiana breeds.
The production area of Vallée d’Aoste Jambon de Bosses PDO is within the territory of the Municipality of Saint Rhémy-en-Bosses, situated at a height of 1,600 m above sea level, in the Valle d’Aosta region. The pigs used for production are born, reared and slaughtered in the regions of Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna.
The selected legs are refrigerated for 24 hours. They are then trimmed of the fat and excess rind before being dry salted; salting in temperature controlled environments takes place for ten months of the year, excluding only the hottest months. As well as salt, the other ingredients used are: pepper, ground or grains, juniper, rosemary, thyme, garlic and laurel. During this period, the meat is massaged in order to promote the loss of serum and blood. It is left to rest and cure for 15-20 days in cool environments; alternatively, it can be placed in a cool humid cellar, a hayloft or in the ham room that can be found in every mountain hut. During this stage the ham is also washed and left to dry. The head of the thigh bone and the exposed muscular surfaces are covered with roughly ground pepper to avoid oxidisation. The curing process last for a minimum period of 12 months, although a large part of the hams are cured for 14-18 months. At the end of this process, hams which pass the rigorous controls are fire-branded with the product mark.
Appearance and Flavour
Vallée d’Aoste Jambon de Bosses PDO has a semi-pressed shape, with the trotter, and weighs at least 7 kg. The leg is tied with a cord that passes through a hole in the top part of the leg. The rind is straw yellow in colour, smooth on the exterior and wrinkled on the inner side of the leg. The slice is wine-red in colour; the lard is firm and shiny, at times with red hues on the outside. It has a delicate and slightly salty taste, with a touch of sweetness, an aromatic flavour and a delicate gamey note.
The international fame of Vallée d’Aoste Jambon de Bosses PDO is well known. The first credible date which attests to its production is found in the Contes de l’Hospice du Grand-Saint-Bernard, 1397, where the tybias porci produced in the territory of Saint- Rhémy-en-Bosses are specifically cited. The fame of this product spread quickly: the hills of Gran San Bernardo were one of the most frequented alpine locations and in the late Middle Ages it became a privileged route for commerce with Western Europe.
It is advisable to conserve whole Vallée d’Aoste Jambon de Bosses PDO hams in a cool place and, once opened, the sliced end should be based with oil and wrapped in cling film or tin foil. Vallée d’Aoste Jambon de Bosses PDO is best served in very thin slices (preferably sliced by hand) with black bread. It is also excellent when combined with mountain butter, honey and nuts.
The product is marketed as Vallée d’Aoste Jambon de Bosses PDO. It is sold year-round whole, in pieces or sliced, vacuum-packed or in a modified atmosphere packaging.
The curing of Vallée d’Aoste Jambon de Bosses PDO takes place in cool environments, such as rascards (typical highland wooden constructions), in which the hams are kept close to local hay that is periodically turned and replaced.