Iberian jamon storage: did I screw up?
A few months ago I was given a generous amount of what I expect will be amazing Iberian jamon de bellota by a friend who brought it home from, I believe, London. It is boneless, sliced and vacuum packed. The packaging does not seem to have been compromised in any way. I have kept it in my pantry since receiving it with the intention of serving it tonight (New Year's Eve).
I was surprised to see today that the package says to keep it in the refrigerator (5 - 10 celsius) and remove 20 minutes before serving to allow to come to room temp. I had not noticed that before and feel fairly sure it was not kept cool by my friend on the trip from England to the states.
Did I screw up by not putting this in the fridge? It never occured to me to do so given the way it was packaged and based on what I saw in tapas bars in Barcelona.
Any assurance that I have not wasted what has been hard to come by and waited so long for will be most appreciated.
Mr slug, you may indeed have a heatbreaker in that there is no way to know for sure. Most hams sold in the US are to be refrigerated unless canned or "country cured". The Serrano hams in the tapas bars in Barcelona are never refrigerated--and need not be. If the Brits packaged a serrano, they're probably unnecessarily obligated to warn people to refrigerate the product.
Personally (but remember I'm an anti-food waste guy), I'd immediately open a pack, take a whif and look for any greenness. If no smell and no green, I'd taste a fair bit. If I'm still alive and kicking later this evening, I'd serve the stuff--but with a warning to all about the lack of refrigeration and the refrigeration warning. I might also (not being a purist) microwave the ham--if the best way to clean a kitchen sponge is in the microwave...
re: Sam Fujisaka
Thank you for your thoughts. I think I should add that this jamon was packaged in Spain and was produced by 5J Sanchez Romero Carvajal, in case any of that makes a difference. The reason I bring this up is to clarify that this is not a re-packaging in London of a product originally made in Spain, rather that it is in the packaging of the producer and one that is, I believe, pretty well respected.