HOW TO CUT IBERIAN HAM
spanish serrano ham is one of the typical mediterranean foods where is one
of the most appreciated delicacies. It is obtained from drying and salting
the rear pork legs. If the spanish serrano ham is obtained from the front
legs is called "Paletilla". The front legs used to be more tasty
because it have much more fat.
Depending on the pork variety, its feeding or the serrano ham curing we can
distinguish several types of serrano ham.
cured serrano ham is dividen into three denominations, depending of the
Curing from 9 to 12 months: Bodega serrano ham (Silver serrano ham)
Curing from 12 to 15 months: Reserva serrano ham (Gold serrano ham)
Curing more than 15 months: Gran reserva serrano ham (Gran serrano)
Depending on the pork feeding the iberian serrano ham can be classified into:
- Iberian ham from acorn-fed pigs: The pork has been fed of acorn between
months of november to march.
- Iberian mix-fed cured ham: made from a pork that has been fed with acorn
and also with fodder.
- Ordinary spanish serrano ham: made from a pig that has been
fed with fodder and other food like potatoes but never with acorn.
pork feeding type and the curing time are the determinants factors for the
high quality of a iberian cured ham. The other important factor is the ham
cutting. A good cutting technique will make a difference in a ham gourmet
session. For this reason its necessary to know the techniques and tricks
that professional cutters use and have an adequate tool: a professional
iberian cured ham knife.
3 Claveles professional iberian ham knife
have a good iberian ham cutting experience we will need some tools:
start cutting the ham we will need a "Jamonero" or ham holder. A device that
holds dry cured ham so it can be cutted into fine strips.
knife sharpener or grindknives because it is necessary that the ham knife is
professional ham knife, long, narrow, flexible and well sharpened.
Professional magnet grindknives
To correctly cut an iberian cured ham we should, first, know the anatomy and
the parts of an iberian serrano ham.
The ham can be divided into this parts:
- The mace is the juiciest serrano ham part, is the one that contains
much more meet and more infiltrated fat. It's the main part of the spanish
"babilla" is found between femur and coxal bones. It's an area with less
meet than the mace.
"contramaza" is in the opposite side than the mace. It's the narrowest ham
part so it is usually the most cured and the part that less fat has.
"punta" tip part, is one of the fattest parts of the serrano ham so it's one
of the tastiest parts.
"jarrete" and the "caña" were found between the
shinbone and the fibula, it is a hard meet and usually is used to make
iberian ham cubes.
Serrano ham parts
Utensils to cut spanish serrano ham: The ham knife
serrano ham knife must be long, narrow and flexible, but especially, it has
to be perfectly sharpened. The most used matherial to ham knives
manufacturing is the stainless steel. This steel has the advantage that is
very flexible but also has the disadvantage of loosing the sharpen so fast.
For this reason is recommended to sharpen the ham knife very good before
start to cutting the ham.
the serrano ham we must use, apart from the ham knife, two other knives. It
is not required but is recommended because each knife has a specific
characteristics and each one must be used to what has been designed.
we will need a wide knife, that we will use to clean the ham and cut the
cortex and other knife shorter to clean in depth and near the bones so it
has to be a tip knife.
Professional kitchen knives
Besides the three knives w
e also will need a good grind-knives because
as we have commented before, a well sharpened ham knife is essential to make
a good ham cut. The grindknives is a cylindrical steel bar with surface
roughness. This roughness facilitate the ham knife sharpen maintenance.
Simply sliding the ham knife up and down in the grindknives before starting
to cut the iberian ham.
grindknives is not a sharpen element properly said, its function is to
settle the sharpen and maintenance it in good conditions so you will only
have to sharpen it (with a sharpener) only once in two years.
we know all serrano ham parts and count with a well sharpened iberian ham
knife it's time to starting to cut the ham.
first thing we should do is to hold the ham in the "jamonero" or ham holder
and hold it firmly to dont move. We should put the hoof looking up, leaving
the mace in view because we will start to cut the ham in this part. The ham
can be started by any of its sides, mace or "babilla" depending the consumer.
If you start by the mace the ham will dry less.
second place you should make a vertical cut with the ham knife around the
"caña" and the "jarrete", not so deep, to facilitate the ham cutting.
third step is to clean the cortex and the outside iberian ham fat, we must
consider that if we clean the cortex, the ham will dry earlier so we only
will clean the part we are going to eat. We should save a piece of cortex to
cover the discovered ham part and avoid it to dry so fast.
have made all the steps we should have the ham holded in the "jamonero" and
prepared to start cutting.
Ham cutting technique
Before starting to cut the iberian ham we must think that we have in our
hands a very sharpened knife so we have to follow some recomendtations
before starting to cut the ham.
The ham must be firmly holded in the "jamonero" avoiding it to move. We
should hold the ham with one hand while cut with the other so its very
important that the hand that holds the ham be allways upper than the hand
that holds the knife. The cuts must be done allways in opposite direction to
where we have the other hand.
We should keep a safe distance of the cut area and dont bow over the ham
knife. To cut the iberian ham it's not necessary make a big strength, we
should cut slowly making broad knife movements.
Once commented the basic security measures to cut ham we will start
explaining the ham cutting technique.
The ham must be cutted into slices, about five centimeters long, as fine as
it's posible. We should use all ham wide, avoid leaving marks or striae in
the ham surface. The cut must be done in the oposite direction of the hoof,
with parallel cuts.
Serrano ham cutting technique
we arrive to the bone we should cut the ham in cubes instead of slices.
finished the mace area we should turn the ham placing the hoof looking down
to cut the "babilla" or the "contramaza" area with the same technique.
bones can we exploited to make high quality broths or cooked, for this we
can cut the bones or even freeze it.
Cutting a "paletilla" (front leg ham) is so similar to cut a iberian ham although
we will need a smaller tip knife to cut the ham near the spatula bone, that
have a very appreciated taste.
we have finished cutting the serrano ham we should cover the areas that are
in contact with air with the cortex and the fat we have saved before.
Everything should be covered with a dishcloth. Thus the ham will be
conserved perfectly and the exposed areas will not dry.
Serrano ham conservation
The iberian ham must be presented into fine slices placed in a plate only in
one layer to avoid it to glue with the contact, although it can be a bit
Iberian ham plate presentation