This is a pretty winter antipasto requiring almost no work. The subtle, candy-like sweetness of the persimmons in combination with the rich, smoky-salty, lean meat is beguiling. Choose Fuyus that are deep, saturated orange, and just beginning to give to the touch, like a slightly under ripe peach. The best varieties have a squat profile and are cleft, presenting a quatrefoil-shaped slice. Don't use torpedo-shaped Hachiya persimmons, which must be jelly-soft to be edible. If you see the unusual "Chocolate Fuyu" persimmon on the market, snatch up a few. The gorgeous, marbleized flesh has faint cinnamon overtones and is worth the extra dimes. I usually don't peel Fuyu persimmons, but you should taste a small sliver of the fruit and decide if you like the skin or not.
This antipasto is a proper place to lavish the best artisan-made, aged balsamic, but, lacking that, combine good quality commercial balsamic with the oil to make a rich vinaigrette instead. I sometimes add a few pecans to this dish.
1 medium or 2 small Fuyu persimmons (about 6 to 8 ounces total)
5 to 6 ounces thinly sliced smoked prosciutto
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons artisan-made balsamic vinegar
1. Using the tip of a paring knife, carve out the stem end of the persimmons. Carve out a sliver of meat and skin and taste. If you like the texture of the skin, leave as is; if not, peel the fruit whole.
2. Cut the persimmon into very thin wedges, prying out seeds if there are any, with a sharp knife or with a mandoline.
3. Arrange the prosciutto and persimmons, somewhat overlapping, on plates or a platter.
4. Drizzle with the olive oil, and then finish with the balsamic vinegar.
Adapted from The Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers (W. W. Norton, 2002). Copyright 2002 by Judy Rodgers.
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