Famous Spanish “Jamon”
Hi I am new to this Grate food forum in my first post in this board I have grate information to share you about “jamon” its a kind of food .
Jamon is the cured leg of a pig of which there are many varieties the most famous being Jamon Serrano and the Jamon Iberico. The different classifications depend on the type of pig, what it is fed on and its location.
The Iberian pig produces the most famous of the range of spanish cured hams. Only the meat that comes from an Iberian pig can be called Jamon Iberico or pata negra which means black leg.
Jamon Iberico is divided into three categories
· Jamon Iberico de Bellota
· Jamon Iberico de Recebo
· Jamon Iberico
Jamon Iberico is the best quality and comes from free range pigs that live in the mountains and graze on bellotas the fruit of the holm oak tree.
Hope you like my first post enjoy reading, please post feedback also.
Proscuitto is probably the best sub you could use. But it is definitely worth seeking out and trying. Even the Serrano is miles better than proscuitto, IMHO, and I adore both.
Not sure I would know the difference, tastewise, with the more expensive Jamon Ibericos. But may be worth seeking out. Delicious stuff.
Here is an exert from an excellent article by Simon Majumdar (http://www.doshermanos.co.uk/search?q...) who visits Spain and gives us a great insight into the production of the Jamon, the full article is here on the Guardian website: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyl...):
"There are four grades of jamón ibérico, categorised primarily by the diet of the pigs. The curing process remains the same, but the length for which they are aged will differ with the lower grade hams receiving little more than a year of hanging and the very best up to four years.
The age difference can be seen in the finished result with the flesh of the younger hams having a lighter pink colour and those of older hams being a deep, ruby red. The taste too is very different with the acorn richness of the jamón ibérico de bellota lingering on the palate like a fine wine.
Jamón ibérico de bellota
From pure Iberico pigs fed on a diet of acorns during the Montanera and granted DO status. These hams are aged for at least three years before being released and often labelled 'reserva' and 'gran reserva' to denote their age.
Jamón ibérico de recebo
Fed on a diet of cereals and acorns and aged for at least three years.
Jamón ibérico cebo de campo
Free range, but fed only on a diet of cereals.
Jamón ibérico de cebo
Commercially reared pigs fed on a diet of cereals."
Thank you for the information. However a want to point out something that happened in our home. I happened to have multiple types of ham leftover from a cooking spree. Included were the insanely expensiveSarrano and iberico hams. We had all read the reviews in the LA Times about as one chowhound call it "the transormative nature of the ham." Well when I put out the 5 or 6 varieties that included a TJ's American prociuto and other domestic and inexpensive ham products, no one felt the Spanish hams were worth the money. IMHO I felt it was an enormous hype and rip off. I see more and more of this type of branding and marketing and am continually amused by what suckers we Americans are. So enjoy your acorn fed pigs and by the way I still have this bridge in Brooklyn for sale!
Rob - the problem you have is that you may not be getting the hams in prime condition. These are products best enjoyed fresh, cut straight from the joint. Pre-cuting and storing them isn't going to do them any favours. I am lucky enough to have eaten lots of these top quality European hams in their places of origin and in top condition. They are superb. But badly kept ones that are dried out and are in poor condition are fairly unpleasant.
That said they are not always products for the novice. If your friends are only used to a certain style of "softer" ham, in my terms a York Ham or Gammon Ham then the European hams which have been matured for long periods are going seem tougher and more chewy, it takes a little time to understand the product and then appreciate its virtues.
Not certain I understand your comments about branding. These are very old products that have been produced for centuries in Spain.
I think PhilD might be right. In Spain, the Iberico ham is extremely flavorful. I'm a huge fan of prosciutto and other types of cured ham, and the Iberico I've had in this country has been disappointing. Because the imported Iberico is so different (drier, coarser, less flavorful/less nutty) than the Iberico I've had in Spain, I don't think it's worth the money to buy it here either. Even the Serrano is less silky, less moist, less fresh. In Spain, the Serrano is much like prosciutto.
So, Robhungry1, I don't think you've had a good representation of the product yet. I wish I could give you that experience, and then have you judge.
It may well indicate large scale industrialised production rather than an artisan product.
There are big/small and high/low quality producers in these regions. The EU "protection of origin" (PDI/PDO) regulations ensure that certain standards are maintained and products are made within certain areas to, and then many of these are administered by traditional associations (the DO system in Spain, DOC in Italy and AOC in France) which set the quality standards.
However, within the standard there are still good and less good products, it is just the same as wine i.e. Champagne must come from a region in France, it can only contain certain grapes, and must be made in a certain way. But there is still a vast range of qualities of Champagne.
The best flavors of Jamon Iberico de Bellota will involve many factors: the brand, storage, how it was sliced, temperature served. But make no mistake, a traditional Jamon Iberico de bellota is light years in flavor as compared to any ham on earth (and we have tried everything from the German speck varietals to Prosciutto de Parmas, to French Bayonne, etc,). Can't explain it but as Bourdain states, there's this "umami" to it that even the Japanese have bought the futures...So here comes the shortage :-(
I find that jamon has a nutty taste as opposed to the prosciutto, especially when you get the good iberico, then you can really taste the acorns.
It's hard for me to choose one or the other. I love 'em both.