After the fall of the Iron Curtain, we received not only the longed-for freedom, but also learned about some foreign delicacies. It is a dry-cured pork leg.
But we know so little about how exactly this dish is prepared, what varieties are, which ones are the best. So our main information about this dish is a set of unverified information.
But even just choosing a ham is a difficult question. It must meet certain requirements that guarantee its taste and quality.
Only by studying this topic in detail and you can learn how to get real pleasure from ham. So welcome to the world of facts and myths about this delicacy, by debunking and confirming which, we will learn more about it.
Jamon is made from Iberian black pigs. This opinion is true. Of course, not all pigs live in Spain. Otherwise, there simply would not be so much ham in the world - the legs of poor Iberian pigs simply would not be enough to satisfy the needs of numerous gourmets. Many pigs are grown in much cheaper Poland, where they are slaughtered, butchered, and then they are taken to Spain to be dried there. This ham is then exported, but the Spaniards really prefer the national product for themselves. This scheme is not new at all, it is also used for Parma ham.
Jamon is Serrano. This word is heard by most buyers, which is why the Serrano variety is so popular. In fact, this situation has developed outside of Spain itself. Connoisseurs claim that the darker the jamon, the better it is. Accordingly, the most high-quality variety will be "Pata Negro", literally translated as "black leg". The next on the level are the varieties from Guijuelo. This is the name of a village in Salamanca, where an expensive and really appreciated product is produced by experts. It is even rumored that it is precisely this jamon that is perfectly used in the form of bribes for high-ranking Spanish officials. Savvy shoppers will also notice the Jamon from Habugo. To add meaning to yourself, it's a good idea to memorize the word jamonero. This is the name of the machine for cutting meat, somewhat reminiscent of an instrument of torture during the Inquisition. And the serrano jamon is made from a white pig, such a jamon will have a white hoof.
The quality of the ham determines its price. Thinking like that is a mistake. In fact, the meat must be tasted. It happens that an advertised expensive ham, which costs 200 euros per kilogram, is not surprising at all. Either the shade is unnaturally yellow, then there is too much fat. You can find quite a good jamon for 30 euros.
To get the right jamon, pigs are fed acorns all their lives. This myth has been replicated on the Internet. In fact, the correct pigs are indeed fed with acorns, but only a couple of months before slaughter. This is quite enough for the meat to develop the very aroma characteristic of a delicacy.
Jamon can be stored sliced and vacuum packed. For a real ham, even putting it in the refrigerator is fatal. But this is where vacuum cutting is stored. It would be fair to name such a dish - pork with a taste of ham. It's just that it's often the only choice on store shelves.
Jamon in slices is more expensive than whole leg. This statement is quite logical, because up to half of the weight of an entire leg can be occupied by a bone. This forces manufacturers to often set a fixed price for legs of certain varieties and origins, despite the range in weight sometimes up to a kilogram.
Any pork leg can be suitable for making ham. Pigs have two front legs called pallets. They weigh 3-4 kilograms. The back ones are twice as heavy, and they are used to make the classic ham. And the hind leg is always more expensive than the front leg, if we take the price per kilogram.
The price of jamon can go up to 1000 euros. It really is. In 2004, the foundation was laid, and in 2007 the world's most expensive jamon began to be sold. It was created on the Maldonado farm in Extremadura. Naturally, such ham is not prepared every year, but with the accompanying several successful factors. Only a few dozen of these jamon go on sale. In the press, however, such a product is referred to as "an authentic luxury for sybarites".
Jamon, like any raw meat, is stored in large refrigerators at temperatures ranging from 0 to 5 degrees. Jamon is really considered a capricious product, but this does not mean that one must "live" in a huge refrigerator. An ordinary, constant room temperature is quite enough for him. You just need to protect the product from heat or cold. The best for jamon is the vertical position, in which it is fixed on a special stand, the jamonière.
It is best to eat the whole leg of the ham at once. To do this, you have to stock up on either booze or a bunch of activated charcoal. In fact, from the moment of the first incision, the leg can be eaten for four months, provided that it is the part used, and not the entire leg, that will be cleaned. Jamon meat is raw, oxidation is peculiar to it, like any living product. To protect the cut meat, simply cover it. To do this, you can use several options at once. Cut bacon or skin, a clean cotton towel, you can grease the cut with olive oil or cover it with parchment moistened with it. It is important not to let this place dry out. In extreme cases, you can not cover with anything, just after 4 months it will be delicious, but very expensive dry pork.
You can cut the ham into slices, cover with cellophane and store in the refrigerator. First of all, let's say that it is better not to store food in cellophane at all, this material was invented for transportation. For jamon, this storage method, thanks to all the same oxidative processes, will be disastrous. In the best case, the product will fit only for the soup, and in the worst case, it will absorb all the smells of the refrigerator in itself, which can scare away at once. Better to use parchment and foil. You just need to pack the jamon so that the foil does not touch it. However, one should not hope that such storage will be long-term. They should not get carried away. Alternatively, you can try covering the meat with a damp towel. And after staying in the refrigerator, you can slightly restore the previous taste properties if you let the ham spend half an hour at room temperature.
Jamon can be frozen. This is not a product that should be subjected to this procedure. Freezing berries and fruits for the winter may be useful; it is good to store dumplings in the cold. And having bought a rather expensive delicacy, it is better to eat it right away.
If the jamon is moldy, then it has deteriorated. Cheese, coriander, cognac can smell like mold, and this does not scare anyone. Jamon is the result of the interaction of air and bacteria, its mold, in fact, has a natural and noble origin. You don't have to be a chemist to figure out what to do with it. You just need to take a clean and damp towel, moisten it with olive oil and cut off the skin. But the middle is quite possible to eat, there is nothing to worry about. It is also worth remembering that if the yellow lard has a rancid taste, then it must also be cut off with the skin.
For transportation, the ham is wrapped in plastic wrap. This is permissible if the transportation takes no more than a day. If the transportation will be long, then it is better to use parchment or a cotton bag. And it is better to cover the hoof with foil, so as not to frighten others.
It makes no difference how the jamon is cut. In fact, the ritual of consuming ham involves cutting it right. This can be done manually, which is what real gourmets prefer, or using a slicer. It is believed that for the greatest disclosure of taste and aroma, the slices should be thin, almost transparent, with a small strip of fat on the edge. Then the jamon in your mouth will literally melt. To carve meat by hand, you first need a knife with a short and wide blade to remove the skin and excess fat. Then a flexible and narrow knife comes into play, sharpened so as to cut into thin slices. The jamon itself should be placed on a special cutting board, the jamonier. It is better to cut the amount of meat that will be eaten immediately.
There are different recipes for making jamon. Some varieties are said to be pickled in special spices or even soaked in sea water. In fact, this is not true. The recipe for making jamon is quite simple and has not changed for several centuries. Salt goes to meat and nothing else. The difference in taste is determined by the amount of salt, the humidity of the room where the product is kept and the drying time, which is most important.