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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Spain & Portugal / February's Tag Game ~ El jamón ~ Spanish Ham/Bacon
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    February's Tag Game ~ El jamón ~ Spanish Ham/Bacon

    Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:32 pm
    Forum Host

    ~ Jamón is both a cultural icon and everyday indulgence throughout Spain. In most Spanish households, it's quite common to find a large ham on a wooden ham stand in the kitchen, which slices are then carved, razor-thin, and served at dinner or with the merienda (a mid-afternoon snack in Spain).

    Jamón is eaten regularly in most Spanish households. In fact, not only is Spain the largest producer of air-dried-cured ham, but Spaniards are the number one ham consumers in the world! Every Spaniard eats about 5 kilograms of cured ham per year. That is double what the Italians eat.

    Jamón is a versatile food item that is great as an a main entrée, side dish, tapas. or sandwich. But ham is also great added to omelets, salads, sopas (or soups), and casseroles.

    ~ But perhaps most often in Spain, jamón is best enjoyed served cold as a light snack, paired with a variety of pan (bread) and well-aged Manchego cheese or other mild cheese and a good quality Spanish vino (wine). A particularly good wine choice would be an aromatic white wine such as Albariño, which is often described as Spain’s sunniest wine that boasts a clean, crisp tone that suggests a hint of apricot and peach.

    The ham’s curing process is regarded as a sacred art and is a point of great pride among Spaniards. Most producers honor traditions that go back thousands of years which result in a deeper, more complex flavor, firmer texture, and less fat than other types of ham. For instance, in Spain, fresh ham is rolled in pure sea salt and then hung to cure in the fresh mountain air for at least one year or more. In contrast, Italian prosciutto ham is cured briefly while coated in lard, and Virginia hams are boiled.

    There are two primary kinds of dry-cured hams in Spain, Jamón serrano and Jamón ibérico, which some additional distinctions of quality abound within those two primary varieties of jamón.

    Jamón types

    ~ Grocery stores, sausage shops and supermarkets all sell various types of jamón (or dry-cured ham) in Spain, with prices ranging from economical to very expensive. Their standard of quality is determined primarily by the type of pig, the way the pig was fed, the part of the pig used to make the ham, and the way the ham is cured.

    The four basic types of cured hams in Spain, are:

    Jamón serrano (which translates to “mountain ham” or “hill ham”) is the least expensive type of jamón. It comes from regular white pigs from the sierra mountains that are fed only on grains, and it’s cured for about a year. It has a warm, mild flavor. It is also known as Jamón reserva, Jamón Curado, and Jamón Extra.

    Jamón ibérico de Campo (also known as Jamón de Pata Negra (which pata negra means black hoof) accounts for only about 5% of the total ham production. It comes from black Iberian pigs fed only grains, and curing time varies from a year and upwards, depending on the size of the ham. It possesses a deeper, richer flavor than Jamón serrano. Often, some markets will display the hams with the distinct black hoofs still intact as a testament to their authenticity.

    Jamón ibérico de Recebo comes from Iberian pigs bred in the meadows of the Extremadura region of Spain and are fed on a combination of acorns and natural grains. It is an exquisite product that boasts a rich, nutty flavor, though their meat is less marbled than the more expensive Jamón ibérico de bellota.

    Jamón ibérico de bellota is the most expensive of the cured hams. It comes from black Iberian pigs who roam free-range, foraging acorns in the peace and quiet of the vast Spanish oak forests. It has an intense, complex flavor with slightly salty and nutty overtones. It has a gorgeous, marbled flesh and is the most highly prized ham in Spain, indeed the world. It was elected as the “best ham in the world” in both 2007 and 2010.

    If you've never tasted genuine Spanish ham before, you're in for a treat. It’s not like any other ham you’ve ever tried. Served in wafer-thin slices at room temperature, it's a magical, almost mystical delicacy. The subtle, nutty flavor with buttery undertones combines with a velvety texture that melts on your tongue.

    Nutrition and Health Benefits

    ~ The nutritional values and health benefits of the various types of jamón vary depending on the specific pig, because different DNA exist in the ham of extraordinary pigs than the meat of run-of-the mill pink pigs you are used to buying. More importantly, their diet of herbs, grasses and acorns are a significant factor. But in general, the more nutritious of the four main varieties is the jamón ibérico de bellota, which is attributed to their genetics as well as their primariy diet of feasting on acorns in the oak forests.

    The fat of Ibérico Bellota ham contains over 55% oleic acid (a mono-unsaturated fatty acid). Rigorous scientific studies have shown that these fats result in a beneficial effect on cholesterol in the blood by increasing the amount of good (HDL) cholesterol and reducing bad (LDL) cholesterol. Only virgin olive oil has a higher oleic acid content. And the total proportion of unsaturated fatty acids of pigs that have consumed a diet of acorns is over 75% makes Jamón Ibérico Bellota the most "cardiohealthy" of all animal fats, perhaps even healthier than some fats of plant origin. The breed of pigs is not the only explanation, but their exceptional staple diet of acorns and healthy grasses also plays an important role.

    Jamón Ibérico de Bellota provides excellent to good sources of B1, B6, B12 and folic acid. It is also rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, and in minerals such as copper, essential for bones and cartilage; calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and finally, selenium, which has been attributed with anti-aging properties.

    …………….....................……………TAG GAME

    For this month’s tag game, we have selected an array of Spanish (and other) recipes from the site’s database that include jamón or ham as an ingredient. You can tag one of the recipes we found, or you can pick any other recipe in the site’s database that includes jamón or ham as an ingredient. And there is no limit; you can tag as many recipes as you can make and review before the end of the month.


    ~ Basque Chicken Casserole by Swiss Miss
    This delicious Spanish dish is similar to Paella but is a delicious chicken casserole with the addition of jamón for a more complex flavor sensation.

    ~ Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omelet) by Karen From Colorado
    A Spanish Omelet like no other! It’s packed with taste and includes lots of fresh ingredients and the Spanish favorite, jamón.

    ~ Gazpacho Andalusia by Celticevergreen
    This version of the classic Spanish dish is from the Andalusian region of Spain and is enhanced by the addition of jamón Serrano or jamón iberico (your choice!).

    TAPAS – Appetizers and Snacks

    Mango Wedges Wrapped in Serrano Ham
    Peaches With Serrano Ham and Basil
    Spanish Tomato Bread With Jamon Serrano (Serrano Ham)
    Spanish Tomato Bread With Jam�n Serrano
    Manchego and Serrano Crostini
    Sticks of Ham With Honey


    Spanish Paprika Chicken
    Pollo Al Chilindr�n from Jose Andres
    Grouper Skewers W/ Mango & Serrano Ham & Camembert Sauce
    Ham and Manchego Croquetas With Smoked Paprika Aioli
    Spanish Burger
    The Spaniard (Grilled Sandwich)

    SOPAS Y ENSALADAS – Soups and Salads

    Sopa De Ajo - Castilian Garlic Soup
    Potaje De Garbanzos (Chickpea Stew - Spain)
    Black Bean Soup
    Lemon Garlic Shrimp With Greens
    Fava Bean Salad With Jamon and Fresh Mint
    Karl's Chargrilled Vegetable Salad


    Habas Con Jam�n (Broad Beans With Ham) - Spain
    Spinach With Pine Nuts and Almonds (Espinacas Con Pinones Y Almo
    Do It Yourself Baby Potatoes Great Appetizers for the Holidays!
    Pan de Jamon (ham bread)
    Jamon and Olives

    Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:33 pm
    Forum Host
    Participants' ham/bacon recipes:

    NorthwestGal’s Ham recipes
    Zydeco Soup #486161
    The Munroe Melt (Sandwich) #433627
    Thu Jan 31, 2013 12:33 pm
    Forum Host
    The Tags:
    Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:04 pm
    Forum Host
    I don't eat ham or bacon, so will check in for next month's featured food. This is a great way to learn more about Spanish cooking!
    Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:39 pm
    Forum Host
    Sharon123 wrote:
    I don't eat ham or bacon, so will check in for next month's featured food. This is a great way to learn more about Spanish cooking!

    Hey Sharon! wave.gif

    Me neither, but I thought this would be super informative and great for other players. icon_biggrin.gif See you next month! icon_biggrin.gif

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