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Mar 4, 2007 08:57 AM

Jamon Iberico (split from SF board)

I stopped in the Spanish Table in Mill Valley on Friday and inquired about Jamon Iberico. The lady working there said they were definitely on the list to get some but wasn't exactly sure when it would arrive. To her understanding, the East Coast had already started receiving some orders last year. West Coast should begin receiving their orders sometime this year. I asked her to guess how much it might cost. Again, she wasn't exactly sure, but she guessed somewhere around $45/lb. She said once they do get it in they'll have pre-sliced packs of 8 and 16 oz for sale.

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  1. That's both good news and bad news. Why on earth would they pre-slice something that is so wonderful and so prone to losing flavor with every minute after it has been sliced?

    5 Replies
    1. re: SteveG

      hola, from chatting with an excellent local meat vendor, the meats are best utilized/minimally wasted with a special slicing apparatus/set up. I know that deli personnel dealing with the jamon serrano we can get here have widely varying expertise in getting nice consistent slices on the standard slicing machines, and those are off the bone. The ones I've seen in photos from Spanish tapas bars, sitting in a rack ready for the tapadero to carve (maybe some flies buzzin' around?) are undoubtedly not as expensive as the USDA approved ones, might also fail to meet our county health inspection standards. enjoy the wait, or the trip to Iberia.

      1. re: moto

        In Spain it would typically be the less expensive ham one would subject to a "slicing apparatus". A good quality ham will be hand-sliced.

        Any difference in price between the top-quality ham in a Spanish bar and "USDA approved" ham comes from 1) additional bureaucracy costs due to (some ridiculous) USDA requirements, passed on to the consumer 2) shipping and distribution costs and 3) plain old supply and demand in an expanding market. It's not much of an indicator of quality. I've got a feeling the very best hams won't ever leave Spain. Certainly "USDA approved" has one and only one meaning for me: I can legally buy it here in the U.S.

        Not sure what the fly imagery is all about... Spain is not a third world country.

        1. re: Pincho

          Someone told me recently that the italian ham (Parma, San Daniele) industry has been lobbying heavily against allowing spanish iberico ham into the US market.
          Anyway, it is just a matter of time that the product will make it into the country. Although as you say it is not likely that the top range ham pieces will make it out of Spain anytime soon unless demand from abroad is ready to pay big for it. We must consider that top range ham has a very limited production due to the breeding characteristics (iberico de bellota pigs are fed in the wild and every single pig must be accounted for a certain amount of surface).
          For those of you who want to know a little more about spanish "iberico de bellota" ham, here are a few links:
          Jamon iberico at the Wikipedia

          Iberico Spanish Serrano Ham Production

          "Pata Negra" Spanish Serrano Ham

          1. re: Pincho

            Absolutely correct--jamón ibérico de bellota is not machine sliced in Spain. It is sliced by hand because it tastes much better this way (because of the texture, ability to to cut it properly with the grain and lack of heat generated from the blade) and there is less waste. The best stuff here (Spain) can be much more expensive than $45 a pound if you are buying small quantities. But the best jamón ibérico de bellota isn't what you will get in the US...

            Another reason to get it hand sliced is that the meat from different parts of the ham is of very different flavor/desirability. If I were paying top dollar/euro, I'd want the best part.

        2. re: SteveG

          In the past Spanish Table in Berkeley did not have the ability to slice to order. Maybe Mill Valley is the same set up.

        3. I was in Brooklyn last September and was at a place that claimed they were offering a salami made with Jamon Iberico. Frankly, I've eaten a lot of various salamis but was not overwhelmed. CHaracteristics were very rich and oily if I remember correctly. I would not consider this to be representative of Jamon Iberico.

          2 Replies
          1. re: poulet_roti

            That would have been made from other cuts of Iberico pigs, not the ham.


            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              That would make sense. It was fairly early in the morning after taking a redeye to NY so I was not totally clear. I do recall the richness and oiliness though.

          2. Has anyone had any luck buying it in Mexico and where? Might be worth a trip to TJ or Rosarito...

            2 Replies
            1. re: torta basilica

              We saw jamon serrano (not iberico) in only large American-ish grocery stores in Mexico. It was always sold sliced in shrink-wrapped packages (like that stuff they have at Trader Joes) and was not any special price. We tried it once I think from the ginormous market in Puerto Vallarta and it was pretty disappointing. We did finally find some fairly good jamon (sliced to order, too) in a liquor store in Panama City.

              I might expect to find it (with effort) in Mexico City... Otherwise, I would guess that unless there is someone in a Mexican border town who has specifically decided to corner the market on jamon sales to starved border-crossing Americans, you won't find it.

              1. re: TimeMachine

                Regarding Jamon Iberico in Mexico. I am in Mexico City and found it at D.O. which is a restaurant at 406 Hegel on the corner of Masaryk in the Polanco neighborhood. It was really good of course. But not quite THAT good that it should costs $30 for an appetizer plate. That is an expensive area though, maybe it was overpriced. I don't know that it'd be available in a more blue collar restaurant though. Glad I had it, is it cheaper in Spain?

            2. Stopped by the local cheese shop yesterday looking for yummy things. They had sold the Lomo Iberico. When asked if they had any more, I was told that the only approved producer had lost its aproval and it would take up to 2 years to get it back. I don't know if this is true, but can anyone find Iberico in thier towns?


              1 Reply
              1. re: gutterman

                I asked this on the Washington Board, but so far no reply. I love lomo iberico and jamon iberico pata negra, but my only experience has been in Barcelona, where I gorged on the stuff. Is the stuff from La Tienda website as good as the real thing in spain? any experience? I'd spend a lot of dough to have that stuff again