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June 12, 2019 | By Dave Mattingly
Serrano Ham, an indispensible part of any Spanish Tapas course, is locally known as Jamon Serrano or Mountain Ham. This dry cured gourmet Spanish Ham, similar to Italian Prosciutto di Parma, comes from the mountainous interior of Spain. It is available in pre-sliced retail packs or as a 13 pound whole leg. Serrano Ham goes great with green olives, Manchego Cheese and other tapas specialties. Many people confuse Serrano Ham with the more expensive Iberico Ham, also known as Pata Negra. Serrano Ham is taken from the leg of the famed Landrace white pig whereas Iberico Ham comes from the black Iberian pig. As with the Iberico Ham, the pigs that are used for Serrano Ham production feed on special diets that lend the ham its exquisite, robust flavoring.
Serrano Ham, or Jamón Serrano, is a staple food in the Spanish diet. Serrano Ham is typically served in thin slices. Serrano means "from the sierra", which references the mountainous regions where Serrano Ham is produced. The mountains provide the ideal conditions for processing the ham: clean air, proper moisture levels and cold winters. The production of Serrano Ham, or Mountain Ham, has been ingrained in the culture of Spain since ancient Roman Times. Fresh ham was cured in mountainous regions with the use of salt and time. The ritual of "matanza" was performed at the start of winter; pigs were sacrificed and butchered during this time which was a cause for great celebration. Hams were covered in sea salt, washed, and hung to dry and cure in curing sheds that received the fresh mountain air, providing the ideal curing conditions throughout the seasons. The entire curing process was a lengthy once, lasting a year to eighteen months.
Today, technology is used to replicate the natural mountainous conditions that produce high quality Serrano Hams. Most Serrano Hams are made from the Landrace breed of white pig. Many people confuse Serrano Ham with the more expensive Iberico Ham, also known as Pata Negra. Serrano Ham is taken from the leg of the famed Landrace white pig whereas Iberico Ham comes from the black Iberian pig. As with the Iberico Ham, the pigs that are used for Serrano Ham production feed on special diets that lend the ham its exquisite, robust flavoring.
In 1990, eighteen Spanish Serrano Ham producers joined forces to create Consorcio de Jamón Serrano Español. This Consortium oversees the production of Serrano Ham and protects the integrity of the product. The Consorcio Serrano Quality Seal is given to Serrano Hams that meet the exacting standards of the Consortium. Since 1999, Serrano Ham, or Jamón Serrano, also has been given Traditional Specialty Guaranteed (TSG) status in the European Union. The TSG label does not refer to the origin of the product but places importance on traditional character, and ensures the authenticity of the ham.
Serrano Ham is an indispensible part of any Spanish Tapas course, and Serrano Ham goes great with green olives, Manchego Cheese and other tapas specialties. Serrano Ham is similar to Italian Prosciutto di Parma, although Serrano Ham has a deeper flavor and firmer texture than Prosciutto. Serrano Ham adds a rich salty flavor to soups and salads, and is also superb when paired with vegetables, such as wrapped around asparagus, or served with eggs or in pasta dishes. It is available in pre-sliced retail packs or as a 13 pound whole leg. To find Serrano Ham and the best gourmet foods and gift baskets online, begin your search at igourmet.com.
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