The Famous Jamon in Spain
Updated: Nov 29, 2022
It is no secret that Jamon is one of Spain's best loved national treasures! Any occasion in Spain will involve a Jamon especially at weddings and Christmas time. There is even a famous film about Jamon!
A JAMON HOME COMING!
Many years ago I bumped into my neighbour in our local supermarket, he was doing his Christmas food shop, it of course included a Jamon along with whiskey, another Spanish favourite.
He had a predicament, laden down with all his Christmas food shopping combined with his excitement of buying his Jamon, he had forgotten he had come shopping on his motorbike.
I spotted him standing in front of me scratching his head then he clocked me, his eyes lit up as he realised he had a solution. Hence the Jamon was placed carefully in my car as I was tasked with taking it home. I whizzed up our hill only to find when I got home he was there waiting hopping nervously from foot to foot thinking I may have done a Jamon runner! If you are planning to buy a Jamon make sure you can get it home!
MORE ABOUT JAMON
Many Spanish dishes are pork based, from albondigas to Spanish tapas dishes such as magras, a delicious pork and tomato recipe I often order, it is a perfect tapas dish served with some freshly sliced bread.
Since Roman times the Spanish have been producing this highly revered nutty delicacy. It is mainly produced in the forests of the Iberian dehesa, this beautiful environment is ideal for growing pigs. The forests ecosystem covers a huge area to the west and southwest of Spain and here the most prized Iberian pigs are reared naturally allowing them to roam around the forests feasting on acorns called 'Bellotas'.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF JAMON IN SPAIN
As you wander around Spanish supermarkets there is always an impressive display of hanging Jamons, especially at Christmas time but how would you know which one to choose.
There are four categories of Iberian ham, the quality is represented by four coloured seals. The highest quality awarded to Jamons, which can cost around 4000 euros, is the black seal. This means the mother and father were 100% Iberian Bellota pigs. The pigs are reared and fed on acorns.
The next seal is the red seal, this means the mother is 100% Iberian but the father is another breed, called Duroc. The green seal is for pigs who have been reared as free range pigs but not exclusively fed on acorns. The white seal in the lowest seal as the pigs come from intensive farming. It is referred to as the peasant Jamon.
I recall one wedding many years ago where we organised a tour of a local Jamon maker in Seville, the clients were from Hong Kong. A couple of the guests enjoyed it so much, they bought Jamons and we had to organise to ship some back to Hong Kong! One client paid over 10,000 euros to ship two back and I often wonder how she got on with them.
The Spanish pride themselves on the art of jamon cutting, my daughter is even learning this at school!
Iberian ham is secured on a stand called a Gondola, of which there are so many different creative designs. You will often see them proudly display in Spanish bars. The skill of the 'cortador' is using a flat long slightly bendy knife to cut in the direction of the muscle so the flavour of the fat and meat stays the same and to get the maximum number of slices from the jamon, after all it is a delicacy.
JAMON IDEAS FOR YOUR CELEBRATIONS
If you are planning something a little different for your celebrations, a 'cortador' is popular at Spanish weddings. Carving the Jamon live and creating beautifully presented Jamon on plates, often accompanied with small bread sticks.
Sharing platters are all the rage and we love this platter below created by Goya Food. Why not create one for your festive celebrations this year?
If you are based in the UK we love Brindisa Foods who do an entire range of Iberian Jamon, stands and a whole host of Spanish goodies to create your Spanish Tapas style platter or you may have a deli near you stocking Spanish delights.