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JAMON SERRANO / JAMON IBERICO / SPANISH HAM - ORCE SERRANO HAMS FOOD & COOKING ARTICLE

Orce Serrano Hams is an exciting family run business which markets a range of authentic Andalucian products, in particular Serrano and Iberico Hams, traditional Spanish charcuterie, olive oils, ceramics, vinegars and wines.

Orce Serrano hams are based in the Granada region of Andalucia southern Spain and therefore ideally placed to hand pick and source the finest examples of local gastronomic delights.

They specialise in providing only the finest products, which are Serrano Hamshipped direct, from Andalucia, thus ensuring that customers are experiencing the true and authentic taste of Spain. Each product is carefully selected to guarantee only the best examples of Spanish food reach their customers in the UK.

If you are looking for a taste of 'real Spain' then Orce Serrano Hams can supply you with it!

The business is owned by Iain Macdonald and Gayle Hartley who, after moving to rural Andalucia to renovate their traditional Spanish cave house quickly fell in love with the Spanish culture, its people, traditions and its food! As they soon discovered, the cornerstone of Spanish gastronomy is the Serrano or mountain cured ham a traditional delight for which Spain is famous and indeed no bar, restaurant or family kitchen would be without one.

Orce Serrano Hams

Orce Serrano Hams - www.orceserranohams.com

The world famous Serrano and Iberico hams are unique to Andalucia due to the geographical nature and extreme weather conditions of the area. Inland Andalucia is high above sea level and experiences extremely cold dry winters providing the perfect natural conditions for air curing Spain's most famous gourmet meat. Orce Serrano Hams is run from the rural village of Orce situated in the foothills of the Sierras' mountain range where many of the Serrano hams have been cured for generations.

Gayle and Iain were so impressed with the Serrano ham, they started to keep one at home with which to tempt all visiting family and friends. On trying a ham for the first time you are struck by the almost melt in the mouth texture and subtle variety of flavours that can come from just a simple cut of meat. Iain says, "You just can't beat slices of ham drizzled in olive oil with some cheese and a good red wine."

Visiting tasters began asking Gayle and Iain to source more hams from their local village of Orce to be enjoyed back in the UK. On researching more thoroughly, Gayle and Iain discovered a whole new side to their humble local dish, never imagining that it would be so popular outside of their sleepy village. The main memory people take back from trips to Spain is the love of the food, and as the Serrano Ham cannot be produced in the UK, Gayle and Iain were in an ideal position to give family, friends and other lovers of Spanish food, that unique taste of Spain to enjoy once the holiday was over.

Keep up to date with the world of Spanish gourmet ~ sign up to the Orce Serrano Hams newsletter

Spanish Ham Spanish chorizo
Iain and Gayle are on a mission - to introduce delicious, sweet Serrano ham to British tastebuds ~ Spain Magazine

Gayle and Iain became serious about the products their local area had to offer and, with the help of the local mayor, Orce Serrano Hams was born. "We began sending so many products that we realised the potential and decided to set up properly", says Iain. Being located in rural Andalucia means Orce Serrano Hams has access to a wealth of traditional Spanish produce which is just impossible to recreate back in the UK. One key factor is that at no time do any of the hams hang or cure anywhere else other than Spain, the result is true authenticity arriving at your door only a few days later - you can almost smell the Spanish air upon opening the box!

Gayle and Iain are dedicated to ensuring that lovers and enthusiasts of all things Spanish do indeed get that true taste of Spain in their own homes.

Jim Fisher carving an Iberico ham

Recently, we asked for one of their most exclusive and expensive hams, the fabled Iberico Bellota Reserva Paleta (acorn-fed foreleg aged for 36 months).

I was so looking forward to this delivery I thought I'd burst with anticipation and the wait, but you could have knocked me down with a feather when it arrived just five days later!

Upon entering Iain and Gayle's online delicatessen you will find an array of mouthwatering artisan cured meats from 'full bone in' Iberico Hams, loins of cured pork, hand made chorizo and salchichon to name but a few. They also carry a comprehensive range of many other sought after Andalucian products such as hand painted ceramics, paella pans and torrefacto coffees. For a taste of authentic Spain, look no further.

Orce Serrano Hams

Orce Serrano Hams - www.orceserranohams.com

Serrano Hams and Iberico Hams

Choose from the most traditional locally cured jamon serrano or one of their luxury Iberico hams which are among the best in Andalucia

Curing Serrano Hams Iberico Hams

Spanish Charcuterie - chorizo, lomo, salchichon, sobrasada

Everything from artisan spicy and sweet chorizo to fantastic examples of the best loins of lomo and exquisite Iberian charcuterie.

Spanish Chorizo Cured pancetta

Spanish Olive Oils and Organics

Andalucia is home to a large number of organic farms and Orce Serrano hams have hand picked the most worthy of natural ecological products from extra virgin olive oil to organic paprika and bomba rice.

Spanish Organic Olive Oil Spanish Bomba rice

Spanish artisan cheeses - Manchego, cabra

Direct from local producers, a fine selection of award winning Andalucian cheeses.

Manchego cheese Spanish Goats Cheese

Spanish Ceramics - Granada ceramics, hand painted ceramics

An extensive range of terracotta kitchenware, earthenware dishes and beautifully painted ceramics including tapas dishes and table centerpieces.

Spanish plates Spanish Ceramics

Spanish coffee, Torrefacto coffee

A variety of traditional style Spanish coffee which is much sought after due to its unique blend plus a variety of accompaniments to make your coffee experience complete.

Spanish coffee Spanish drinking chocolate

Spanish Accessories - Ham stands and Ham supports

Everything you need to compliment the perfect taste of Spain including hams supports, essential ham carving knives, serving boards and tapas dishes.

Ham stand Ham clamp

Spanish wines, liquors, sherries, brandies

Choose from fine Riojas, famous brands and some truly authentic Spanish liqueurs such as 'licor 43' and exquisite Spanish cava.

Spanish wines Spanish liquours

The thinking behind Orce Serrano Hams is to promote, along with the products, the sense of tradition and authenticity which can only be experienced in a small rural village of inland Andalucia. They only supply local hand produced quality items and the courier they use means your product reaches you direct from Spain within five days.

"This was the main factor when beginning our venture" says Iain, "as our products come direct from rural Andalucia you can be sure that just a few days earlier your product was being prepared in the same way it has been for generations".

"This is the appeal of the business - quality products, hand prepared in the traditional way direct to your door - the only way to really enjoy the true taste of Spain"

Spanish Serrano ham Serrano Ham

Serrano Hams and Iberico Hams - the key facts and differences

  • Serrano
    Serrano Ham comes from white pigs local to the area which are fed on a mixed diet of compound feed. They are the cornerstone of Spanish gastronomy and deep rooted in Spanish tradition as it is these hams which are found everywhere from restaurants to the typical Spanish kitchen and are thus more economical in price. Many families still cure their own Serrano hams following traditional recipes and methods as do the larger 'secaderos' or curing houses. There are different classes of Serrano ham depending on region and curing time and you can experience a range of earthy undertones from mild to more flavoursome, a beautiful melt in the mouth texture, distinct aromas and lovely textured dark red flesh.
  • Iberico
    Iberico hams come from the black footed Iberian pigs who live a life of luxury high up in the hills and meadows of Andalucia. They live free range and feed on acorns found naturally in these pastures. There are different types available depending on curing time and rearing methods. Rearing of pigs and curing of the iberico ham is strictly controlled and each pig is given individual care and attention throughout the whole process. The result of their acorn diet and luxury lifestyle is ruby red flesh delicately streaked with sensuous fat which melts in the mouth. The taste and aroma are exquisitely reminiscent of meadowlands and incomparable to anything else. Iberico ham is the best in the world and as such commands a high price.

"The ham was absolutely delicious, it's got to be the best ham I have tasted in a long time, it was fantastically cured and well packaged, a big thank you to Gayle and Iain." ~ Duncan Bannatyne

Orce Serrano Hams

Orce Serrano Hams - www.orceserranohams.com

What you might not know about Spanish ham . . .

  • Weight loss - a ham can lose up to 40% of its original weight during the time when it is hung and cured
  • Quantity of servings - sliced thinly for maximum flavour a whole rear Serrano or iberico ham can produce up to 100 tapas size servings.
  • Why it is healthy - Serrano Hams have a high proportion of healthy fat which reduces bad cholesterol and promotes production of good cholesterol.

    It contains 50% more protein than fresh meat and is rich in iron, calcium, vitamins B1 and B2 and magnesium.
    Serrano Ham is a major player in the healthy Mediterranean lifestyle and when eaten in moderation forms part of a healthy balanced diet.
  • Art form, carving competitions - Carving ham in Spain is taken very seriously, competitions are held in different regions to establish the "top ham carver" these competitions range from small local events up to large regional competitions.
  • Iberico hams - only 7% of all hams produced in Spain are Iberian

Tools for the job . . . carving and caring for a Spanish ham

  • Stands - The ham stand or "clamp" is one of two essential tools for carving your Serrano or iberico jamon or paleta (front leg) The ham must be kept sturdy and the clamp does just that, professional clamps can have up to a seven point securing system to keep the ham perfectly still to achieve those all important wafer thin slices.
  • Knife - The ham knife is also specifically designed for the purpose, blades can come in various lengths but all are flexible and very, very sharp. When carving ham slices the knife should be sharpened beforehand and the blade should be visible underneath the almost transparent slices.
  • Olive oil - Olive oil plays an important role in keeping the exposed meat fresh and moist. Smear a small amount of oil over the area that has been cut to prevent the meat from drying out.
  • Cover - A ham cover or tea-towel is always a good idea to cover the ham, again to help keep the exposed meat moist and ready for carving the next time.
Sliced Spanish ham Looking after Spanish ham

A Spanish ham . . . the perfect gift

Orce Serrano Hams can supply Serrano and Iberico hams for all occasions or for that person that has "everything".

Gayle says "Spanish hams make ideal gifts for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries or corporate, a full ham also takes centre stage at outdoor functions and certainly attracts a lot of attention and curiosity!"

Iain and Gayle supply their own "selections" based on some of the regions most complimentary products and can also include special messages for that special occasion.

Spanish hampers
Serrano ham ~ Iberico ham. Indulge yourself in Spanish excellence . . .

Orce Serrano Ham with . . . some Andalucian flavour!

For some true Andalucian flavour Iain and Gayle suggest enjoying the following with your ham. Don't forget that all important drizzle of olive oil.

  • Ham with cheese - for the best flavours try manchego cheese or the stronger goats cheese known as "cabra"
  • Ham with olives - a true Spanish favourite and served in every tapas establishment in Spain.
  • Ham with melon - the combination of flavours with Serrano ham are superb.
  • Ham with almonds - ideal with both Serrano and iberico hams the nutty flavour compliments the ham slices perfectly. A firm Spanish favourite.
  • Ham with broad beans - "habas" or fresh broad beans are an essential ingredient for every tapas bar in Andalucia and the flavours work especially well with a stronger Serrano ham reserva.
  • Ham and red wine - a good rioja compliments a well cured ham to perfection, works especially well with iberico hams where the combination results in one of the worlds finest gastronomic treats.
  • Ham and atmosphere - the best way to enjoy your ham, with friends. Nothing else creates a Spanish atmosphere like the unique flavour of the country's most famous product, perfect for that Spanish themed function.

Orce Serrano Hams

Orce Serrano Hams - www.orceserranohams.com

Andalucian Recipes

Iain and Gayle are passionate about Spanish food so with ideas from Spanish neighbours, local tapas bar owners and chefs they have compiled a comprehensive list of local recipes, many of which are served in the area's restaurants. Each dish is made in their own kitchen (or on the stone barbeque) and tried and tasted before the recipe is published.

"We both enjoy the local cuisine so decided to recreate a true flavour of Spain for our customers," says Gayle.

Orce Serrano Hams has a continually updated recipe section including many of Spain's most famous main dishes such as Paella as well as the simplest of tapas to be enjoyed like Gambas al Pil Pil.

HERE ARE SOME FAVOURITE RECIPES

Orce Serrano Hams top five Tapas Orce Serrano Hams top five Main meals
  1. Aubergines with Serrano Ham

  2. Gazpacho Andaluz

  3. Jamon Serrano with Melon

  4. Pimientos a la Catalana

  5. Gambas al pil-pil
  1. Tuna Steaks in a Spicy Salsa

  2. Slow cooked Brandy Chicken

  3. Spanish Paella

  4. Albondigas

  5. Fillet of Hake with Serrano Ham
Serrano ham recipe Spanish ham recipe

Choose Orce Serrano Hams to recreate the perfect Spanish atmosphere at home

Iain and Gayle are passionate about their products and are proud to offer an array of the finest artisan examples of Spanish delicacies to customers through their comprehensive online deli. Above all they offer excellent customer service, are experienced and knowledgeable about everything they feel privileged to sell and are always on hand to advise on your ham purchase.

"We pride ourselves on the quality of our products and customer service," says Gayle.

They are happy to accommodate special requests and source specific Spanish products and ingredients.

Orce Serrano Hams . . . where authenticity is key

Orce Serrano Hams

Orce Serrano Hams - www.orceserranohams.com

Published 05 August 2008

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