Ibérico Ham

Preparation info

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Cold-Smoking & Salt-Curing Meat, Fish, & Game

Cold-Smoking & Salt-Curing Meat, Fish, & Game

By A D Livingston

Published 2010

  • About

Method

Jamon Ibérico is a favorite noshing food in Spain, home of the tapas, or “little dishes.” There are several of these hams, all quite expensive. For example, a 16- to 18-pound jamon serrano by Fermin sells for $795. The key to gourmet Spanish hams is in range-fed pigs, free to roam the forests in search of acorns and other wild edibles. The hams from these pigs are salted and cured in cool mountain air.

The Spanish gourmets usually eat these hams raw, thinly sliced, along with various cheeses, olives stuffed with anchovies, beautiful roasted red piouillo peppers, green Guindills finger peppers, white asparagus spears, tiny artichoke hearts, almonds, dry-cured chorizo sausages (made from the same forest-fed pigs), and other finger foods. I like to add a log or two of palm hearts, some pork cracklings, melon balls, and quail eggs.

I go on at some length about these Spanish goodies because the feral pig in North America, which has roamed free since the Spanish introduced the hog to Florida and Mexico, enjoys pretty much the same diet as the Spanish free-range pig. The feral American pig, sometimes called the razorback or piney woods rooter, now grows in the wild across the country and is considered a nuisance in some areas. This affords a rare culinary opportunity for American hunters who are also culinary sports. The successful pig hunter should butcher the pig as soon as possible, being sure to scald the carcass and scrape off the hairs instead of skinning it. Salt and cure the two hams and two sides of bacon. Grind the rest of the meat and make chorizo or other sausage (for how-to details, see my book Sausage).