Serrano HamSliced serrano ham, ready for tapas. Photo courtesy of iGourmet.



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October 2009

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Meat & Poultry

Serrano Ham & Jamon Ibérico

Jamón Serrano: Spain’s Prized Mountain & “Black Hoof” Hams



One of the most exciting gifts a ham-lover can receive is a whole serrano ham, or jamón serrano (serrano means mountain, jamón means ham). A natural, cured ham from the prized Landrace breed white pig found only in the mountainous regions of Spain, serrano is the Spanish version of prosciutto—yet quite different. Hams from these pigs were a delicacy as far back as the Roman Empire.

Serrano ham is made under strict government controls. The fresh ham is rolled in sea salt and hung to dry cure in cool sheds for 6 to 18 months, so the flavors can interact and develop complexity.

  • Serrano ham is significantly different from Italian prosciutto. Prosciutto is cured for a just a few months with a coating of lard. Serrano ham is more flavorful and less fatty.
  • Serrano ham is significantly different from American country ham. It has much less salt than an American country ham and made without nitrites. The meat is red, as you can see in the photo; not pink, the color Americans expect in their ham (and which is achieved through the addition of nitrites).

Serrano ham is a favorite for tapas, and popularly served in thin slices with Manchego cheese and Spanish olives. Or, you can serve it prosciutto-style with melon; French style on a baguette with Dijon mustard, sliced tomatoes and your favorite cheese; Italian-style, wrapped around a breadstick; with grilled cheese on toast (try that Manchego again). There are countless delicious uses.

Serrano ham is as much a part of the everyday culinary life of a Spaniard as a burger and slice of pizza are to the average American. It’s in every household, food market and tapas bar.

Jamón serrano is also known as jamón reserva, jamón curado and jamón extra. While it is a delicious ham, it takes second place to the even more expensive jamón Iberico.

Jamón Ibérico

Jamón ibérico de campo (jamón ibérico for short, also known as jamón de pata negra, the black-hoofed pig. Pata negra, which only accounts for about 5% of total ham production in Spain, is made from the Black Iberian Pig (cerdo ibérico), the best of which are range fattened on acorns in cork oak groves along the southern border between Spain and Portugal. There are three grades, pasture- and compound-fed jamón ibérico de campo; jamón ibérico de recebo, which is acorn, pasture and compound-fed; and jamón ibérico de bellota, free-range, acorn-fed. Read more about jamón ibérico.

These hams are special serranos, "Reserva" cured for 18 months: “the best of the best.” The ham st the top is boneless: $219.00. Click here for more information.

Read about slicing and caring for serrano ham.

Serrano Ham - Boneless

This serrano ham is boneless, the one below
has bone-in. Both are ready-to-eat. No
refrigeration is required.

This bone-in 16-pound ham would be a beautiful carving board centerpiece for a party. $253.00. Click here for more information.

Serrano Reserva Ham

“Reserva” hams are cured for 18 months, have amazing nuances of flavor. They are the finest Serrano hams imported to the U.S.


Ham Holder

Serrano Ham Holder. In private homes as well as restaurants, this jamón holder is a part of everyday life, essential for presenting and carving the serrano ham. Like the omnipresent tea kettle in British homes, in Spanish homes the ham is the constant snack: throughout the day family members and visitors help themselves to a few paper-thin pieces for a snack. Crafted of wood and stainless steel, it requires easy assembly. $44.95. Click here for more information.




Recipes and photos © 2008 McCormick. All rights reserved. Other material Lifestyle Direct, Inc. All rights reserved.

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