Jamon Preparation and cutting
Jamon or Spanish Ham is both unique in its taste and texture as well as in its serving. Considering most people are not used
to having a whole pigs leg on their dinner table this is our guide to preparing Spanish Ham and a guide to cutting Jamon.
Be it a hind (Jamon) or fore (Paletilla) leg preparing the leg for cutting is the same and outlined in the following instructions for mounting and cutting Spanish ham.
Mounting a Jamon
- Thoroughly clean the Jamonero (the wooden board that acts as a support for the leg)
- Remove any packaging from the Jamon or Paletilla
- Locate the leg in the Jamonero with the shoulder bone facing to the left if you are right handed or to the right if you are left handed.
- Screw down the spigot at the trotter. If the shape of the trotter doesn´t lend itself to the spigot and you run out of thread you can always introduce a wedge (wood or plastic) between the trotter and the spigot.
- Once secured the Jamon is ready to be cut.
Note: the Spanish ham will weep from the lower spigot hole over time so either clean around it with a serviette regularly or place the Jamonero on a surface that you don´t mind washing / cleaning.
With your Jamon securely mounted its time to "get at the meat" which involves cutting away the fat that has protected the ham throughout its curing. Take your time with this esssential step of Jamon preparation!
Align the Jamon with the trotter facing away from you and stand behind the shoulder end.
- Using a standard, non serated, knife (so as to protect the "cuchillo jamonero", Ham knife) start at the trotter end and cut away in horizontal layers until you start to see meat as opposed to fat showing through. Repeat this for the whole upper part of the Jamon. Put to one side the thickest pieces of fat you have removed.
- Using the same knife as in 1 and holding it vertically slice away in fine layers to a depth of half an inch (1-2 cms) on the sides of the exposed part of the Jamon. This is to remove the fatty wax like deposits that have formed during the curing process. On the side of the shoulder you should only
have to remove a small amount of fat before the meat shows through. On the other side it may mean cutting away an inch or more of fat.
NOTE: You should always have a small amount of fat around the edges of the meat.
- Now that the meat is sitting there in an exposed manner take your "Ciuchillo jamonero", Ham knife, and starting at the trotter end try to slice a thin sliver of Spanish Jamon. For greater control position the non cutting hand on the trotter and cut towards yourself using the part of the knife closest to the shank to increase stability.
NOTE: Apart from the first 1/4 inch of the cut the blade should be parallel to the meat you are cutting. The perfect slice of Jamon should be almost transparent.
- Repeat until you have a plate full of Jamon!
Closing the Spanish Ham
Once you have finished eating your fill of Jamon (see our serving suggestions) you need to protect your Spanish Ham for the next time. After all effective Jamon storage is equally important as Jamon preparation. You can chose to use either of the following methods:
- Traditional method: Use the pieces of fat that you kept bck in the cutting and place them on top of the open meat, secure them with toothpics if necessary. This method maintains the natural taste of the Ham.
- Modern methods: Use either shrink wrap / clingfilm / aluminium foil accross the exposed meat. This is easier than the traditional method but affects the flavour of the first one or two slices next time you decide to try Spanish Jamon.
Finally, with either method drape a clean teatowel / muslin cloth / dish cloth over the open area to prevent drying out and access by insects. Thats your Jamon preparation complete! Time to get on with devaouring it!!!
Succesfully finished with Jamon preparation? Discover some tasty Jamon recipes...