SPANISH HAM . . . FACTORS AFFECTING FLAVOUR?
& COOKING ARTICLE
researched and written by Orce Serrano Hams
are many differences between Spanish ham least not between
Serrano ham and Iberico ham, both of which are entirely
different products. So which one to choose can be a
bit of a minefield to ensure you get the right ham for
you. If you love Iberico then you will probably know
the differences and should you be a Serrano enthusiast
then the milder bodegas compared to the more intense
reservas and anejos will be a matter of taste but what
about sliced ham?
Spanish ham usually comes in vacuum packets of 100g
250g, from there we move up to smaller ham pieces
which need to be carved. Sliced ham pre-packs
have the distinct advantage of being wafer thin
the way ham should be but will have been machine sliced
to achieve an element of consistency. This in the main,
is not a negative especially regarding convenience but
compared to hand sliced ham or cortar a mano
the machine sliced ham, by its very nature is long measuring
up to eight inches where hand sliced ham is always shorter,
in the professional ham carving world there is even
a specific target size to which slices need to cut.
the flavour front vacuum packed Iberico ham tends to
fare better than Serrano ham, this maybe because the
flavour is more intense, nutty and usually packed by
the secadero (curing house) from where the hams have
been hung. Serrano ham on the other hand, which accounts
for 93% of ham production in Spain can be more comercialised.
Buying good sliced Serrano ham is crucial in order to
experience the true flavour of this meat especially
if you are testing the water before committing to a
whole Serrano ham leg. Low grade sliced Serrano ham
cannot always be determined by price
are suggestive of a bland mass produced ham and will
boast no flavour particularly if the slices are separated
by plastic sheets. These separation sheets are there
for a purpose as the ham is sliced transparently thin
but it can leave a plastic aftertaste which
when considering Spanish ham is a gourmet food is not
ideal. Packs such as these are however good for cooking
as thinly sliced ham can be wrapped around the likes
of chicken breasts and fish fillets.
Serrano ham really needs to be cut to order, this will
ensure that the ham is both fresh and offer the best
flavour, texture and aroma. Your flavour of Spain will
be compromised if left to sit for weeks in storage or
on a shelf. For anyone considering entering the world
of Spanish ham we would recommend buying a smaller Serrano
ham piece where flavour is significantly more retained
both within the meat and surrounding fat which is also
vital to the flavour.
packed ham slices are ideal if you need to discover
the flavour of Spanish ham, perhaps you would like to
compare the differences between Serrano and Iberico
ham without the significant outlay or taste the differences
compared with Italian or French cured ham. Once you
have chosen your packs and are ready to open then we
recommend letting those slices breath for
at least 15 minutes and bring up to room temperature
before enjoying with accompaniments such as manchego
cheese, quince, nuts or good red wine.
freshly packed from Spain.
sliced (cortar a mano) will have more
to breathe for 10 15 minutes.
with complimentary flavours.
that direct from the leg will be better still.
is however no getting away from the fact that hand carved
slices taken directly from the ham itself pack a far
more delicious and natural flavour punch. One advantage
of experimenting with vacuum packed ham slices is that
you can be sure that in future, should you decide to
invest in a full leg then that flavour will be even
better! Although the emphasis here has been on Serrano
ham it is worth mentioning that all grades of sliced
Iberian ham are quite different on the taste buds either
vacuum packed or as a full bone in ham, the same message
does apply though the leg is always a more in
depth gastronomic experience.
Ham Slices: Here at Orce Serrano Hams we deal with
several of the highest quality hams in the Andalucian
region. For freshness we use Carniceria de Orce
for your slices who will cut your ham in situ, to order,
so you can be sure that your Serrano slices came from
a whole ham only 5 days beforehand. Iberico ham slices
come from Pedroches Valley in Cordoba and also the town
of Guijuelo. Look out for hand carved packs for a delicious
teaser on the palate . . .
MAY WE SUGGEST?
Cut to order. If your order is received before 12
midday your ham slices are vacuum packed in La Carniceria
de Julian Orce. Cured for a minimum of 15 months these
hams are now highly regarded throughout Europe. Interested
in sampling the Orce reserva?
Discover more >>>
Cortar a mano or carved by hand. Your Bellota
ham is cured for 36 months in the town of Guijuelo
synonymous with acorn ham. The Maestro secadero will
carve your ham to order in approximately 100g packs.
Copyright 2011 Orce Serrano Hams - www.orceserranohams.com