The Bacon Alternative Bobby Flay Serves With Breakfast

While Bobby Flay's dishes are often rooted in classic combinations, he always has to put his own little twist on things. Whether that's adding a chili pepper or crisping up rice, it always works in his favor, especially on "Beat Bobby Fly." In typical Flay fashion, the American chef and TV personality favors using prosciutto to accompany the creamy, custardy French-style scrambled eggs he cooks slowly with butter and crème fraîche. Made from the hind leg of a pig, prosciutto means ham in Italian. The two most commonly found Italian varieties are Prosciutto di Parma (known more colloquially as Parma ham) and Prosciutto di San Danielle, both of which have a Protected Designation of Origin.


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Salted, air-dried, and aged prosciutto crudo (as it is known in Italian) is often served as part of a charcuterie platter, with bread, cheese, or fruit. But Flay quickly fries the paper-thin porky slices in a little oil so that they become crisp and firm. He then serves the crunchy prosciutto with the scrambled eggs inside a focaccia sandwich for a truly luxurious breakfast.

Prosciutto crisps faster than bacon for Bobby Flay's breakfast sandwich

Bobby Flay's choice of prosciutto over bacon works well for several reasons. Because of its thinness, prosciutto crisps up much faster than bacon, rendering and shrinking in just a minute or two when it hits the heat, then becoming firm and crunchy as it cools. Bacon is not only thicker, it's also fattier per serving since it's from the belly rather than the leg like prosciutto, so the latter will be a lighter dish, too.

As well, unlike bacon, which you should never start cooking in a hot pan, prosciutto is fine to go straight onto the warm surface, making it a quicker breakfast option. But it can stick, so Bobby Flay cooks it in hot oil, which also helps it crisp further.

Another benefit — prosciutto is arguably more versatile than bacon. While pancetta and bacon both need to be cooked, prosciutto is cured with salt before being aged for a long time. It means the almost translucently thin, silky smooth slices of delicately flavored meat can be eaten as they are, as well as being used in cooking. 

Flay is a fan of both cooked and uncooked prosciutto, whether swapping it as is for traditional ham in a grilled chicken cordon bleu, or using it as a topping for crostini. But cooking prosciutto to crisp it up is a regular trick the chef uses as well on "Beat Bobby Flay" when he's looking to add texture to a dish.

How to use prosciutto to elevate everyday dishes

If, like Bobby Flay, you're also partial to prosciutto served lightly cooked, then there are plenty of other dishes which incorporate it, and which can be enjoyed any time of day beyond just breakfast. The key is to treat the delicate meat gently, and not to overcook it, so as to preserve its texture and flavor. And if you are planning to cook with it, it's worth going for a less-aged version, which is also less expensive.

Prosciutto is perfect for wrapping around chicken breasts before baking them for a boost of savory flavor; try stuffing the breasts with goat cheese and fresh herbs before they're wrapped in the silky cured meat for a real treat of a dinner. The ham also works well when used to wrap white fish such as cod before frying in a skillet, enhancing the taste as well as keeping the fish juicy. Or for a sophisticated side, add prosciutto to a potato or vegetable gratin before topping it all with cheese and baking.

If you want to stick with sandwiches, inspired by Flay's focaccia creation, then try adding prosciutto to your next grilled cheese to take it to the next level; the salty meat pairs perfectly with creamy, slightly fruity taleggio. Or try it with melty mozzarella, fresh aromatic basil, and sweet roasted red peppers in griddled ciabatta. A ham and cheese sandwich has never felt so elegant.