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What is Jamón Serrano?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2016
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Jamón serrano is a Spanish dry-cured ham which is sometimes called “Spanish prosciutto,” referencing a similar and better-known meat product. However, it is markedly different from prosciutto, as any Spaniard will hasten to inform you, with a much deeper, more complex flavor. This ham is raw cured, which means that it is not cooked at any point of the curing process, but the process itself renders the ham safe to eat.

In Spanish, jamón serrano means “mountain ham,” referencing the traditional area of production. This ham is made by cleaning and trimming pork legs, salting them, and then allowing them to sit for two weeks to draw off the moisture. Then, the hams are washed to remove much of the salt, and hung in a cool, dry, breezy place for six to 18 months. As a general rule, the ham is cured for around a year.

The mountains are the best place to produce jamón serrano, because they are cool, dry, and breezy. On the plains of Spain, the weather is much hotter, and the hams can spoil before they get a chance to cure. When the cure is finished, the bone-in ham has turned a rich pink color, and slices can be shaved off and served. Some butchers keep a ham at the ready to cut off chunks for customers as needed, and whole jamón serrano for entertaining is also kept in some private homes and restaurants.

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This ham has a very mild flavor, with a low salt content, since the salt is washed off. High-quality jamón serrano will almost melt in the mouth, and it generally has a low fat content. While it is still sealed in the natural crust that develops during the curing process, the ham can be kept in a cool, dry place for up to a year. Once the ham has been opened, the clock starts ticking, because exposure to the air can dry the interior of the ham, or expose it to moisture and molds which could potentially cause the ham to go off. Some people recommend refrigeration after the ham has been opened to keep it safe to eat.

There are a number of ways to use jamón serrano. This ham can be eaten straight, or wrapped around a wedge of melon or a slice of Manchego cheese, a Spanish specialty. It can also be paired with bread, olives, and other appetizers, or added to recipes which call for ham. Generally, light cooking is best for jamón serrano when it is used in a recipe, as one does not want to ruin the flavor.

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anon284922
Post 3

Iberian ham is a delicious food from Spain. Señorio de los Pedroches is the example of the best Iberian ham.

anon152150
Post 2

Serrano, thinly sliced is nice on a picnic with crusty white bread, a green salad or spread out on a plate, sprinkled with cut FLAT leaf parsley (the curly sort has 1/10 the flavor). And after one has poured themselves a glass of cava, lightly squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over the serrano and parsley. Yum! (Finger esting and hot weather compulsory.)

anon30808
Post 1

That sounds delicious! I've been trying to learn more about meats lately, and this really helped. Thanks!

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