Herb and Kathy Eckhouse started La Quercia to create premium quality American prosciutto, then went on to apply what they'd learned to other cuts of pork. The husband and wife team from Norwalk, IA work in all aspects of this rising star of a local business, selecting and buying pork; salting, trimming and handling hams; and leading their production team. They custom blend spices for use in curing process and leave their desks whenever possible to get their hands "into the meat of the matter."
The Eckhouse's appreciation for cured meats grew out of the three and a half years they lived in Parma, Italy, prosciutto's area of origin, where they saw how the careful treatment of fine materials resulted in an accessible, sublime and entirely regional cuisine. Their ambition to create prosciutto came from a desire to take the bounty of Iowa to its highest expression; they nobly seek to contribute to the growth of premium artisan-made American foods by offering unique dry cured meats of the finest quality.
La Quercia (pronounced la kwair-cha) means the oak in Italian. A traditional symbol of the province of Parma (the Eckhouse's Italian "home"), the oak has been associated with the production of premium dry cured ham for millennia. Interestingly, it is also the state tree of Iowa; the name La Quercia thereby unites Iowa, Parma and prosciutto. It is a symbol of patience, persistence, integrity and beauty – values which guide the day-to-day operations of Herb and Kathy's business. From selection of pork from sustainable, local producers who treat their animals and their land responsibly, to use of energy efficient materials and some of the latest, "greenest" technologies available in the design and construction of the facility as well as use of ecologically-minded choices with respect to packaging, La Quercia is a standout in respect for their animals, the land, their products and the people who enjoy them.
Enjoy La Quercia prosciutto and speck (smoked prosciutto) sliced thinly and paired with fruit, cheese, crackers or bread. They infuse any dish with rich, savory umami flavor. They're great in pasta dishes, on grilled pizza or wrapped around vegetables or fish before grilling. Pancetta (cured pork belly) adds luxurious depth to sauces, soups and almost any dish. Unlike American bacon, it is not smoked. It can be used in nearly any recipe that calls for bacon.
Find La Quercia in the Specialty Cheese Department. Selection and availability vary by market.