Articles/ Quick Guide - Jamón

Jamón Serrano – Quick Guide

If you were to ask any Spaniard the one thing they couldn’t live without, I am sure most of them would answer without any hesitation: jamón serrano! No wonder it has become a delicacy worldwide.

Legs of Jamon Serrano in storage
Legs of Jamon Serrano in storage

There’s a whole culture around jamón, including the feed for the pigs, how jamones should be dried, how it should be cut to retain its original flavor, the kind of wine that pairs well with it… We’ll try to discuss some of the basics here. 

How to Eat Jamón

Jamón should be eaten at room temperature. If you keep it in the fridge, remember to take it out a few minutes before serving it. If you have a whole leg, keep it somewhere dry and fresh, between 15ºC and 25ºC. It takes years to become a professional butcher, but if you want to try, remember the secret is to cut very thin slices along with some fat to make the cuts juicier. The knife should be sharp and you need to keep it as horizontal as possible. 

About the best jamón that you can find… well, there are so many! The most popular ones come from the middle-west region of Spain, with the most famous ones coming from Guijuelo, Jabugo and Albuquerque. However, you can find great jamones as well from Córdoba, Jaén or Teruel

Spanish ham jamon at local market.
Spanish ham jamon at local market.

Differences between Jamón de Bellota, Jamón de Cebo and Jamón de Recebo.

Jamón de bellota? Jamón de cebo? or Jamón de recebo? You can have an idea which one is better just by looking at the prices. However, what’s the real difference between them?

Jamón de cebo: The pig has been exclusively fed feed and cereals.

Jamón de recebo: The pig has been fed mixed nourishment, eating acorns as well as feed.

Jamón de bellota: The pig has roamed freely around the grasslands, eating acorns.

Jamón or Paletilla?

Jamón is made with the hind leg of a pig. Paletilla is the foreleg. Therefore, jamones are bigger than paletillas, and paletillas are greasier than jamón. Which one do we recommend? Honestly, both are delicious. However, it could be argued that because they are bigger, jamones take more time to be cured, and this makes their flavor a bit more intense.

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