How To Enjoy Jamón Ibérico Like A Spaniard
It doesn’t take much other than a simple slice for this product to shine, but there are a few ways you can mimic the people who know it best (like my great grandmother, María).
Many words have been used to describe the taste of jamón ibérico de bellota — from nutty and sweet, to earthy and floral. Whatever words you use, the unique flavor of this savory masterpiece is unlike any other in the world. Due to its rich flavor profile, it doesn’t take much to enjoy this special jamón. However, no matter how you choose to indulge, we ask that you follow some simple, yet crucial commandments.
The Three Commandments of Eating Jamón Ibérico de Bellota
1 Always serve at room temperature. The jamón is rich in unsaturated fat, and at room temperature, the meat is primed to melt on your tongue.
2 Always serve very thin slices. The food is rich, yet delicate, and it doesn’t require a thick slab to release a complex medley of flavors.
3 Savor everything, from the taste to the tradition. After all, it’s a slice of the sublime!
Commandments aside, here are some of the ways you can partake in the unparalleled experience of jamón ibérico de bellota like a true Spaniard.
1 Go It Alone If you’ve never had the pleasure of enjoying jamón, you should begin your lifelong love affair by trying it on its own. As long as you follow the Three Commandments, you can’t go wrong. The flavors of the jamón alone are plenty enough to romance your palette. I promise you’ll fall in love at first taste!
2 You Say Tomato, I Say Tomate A classic way to eat jamón is with tomatoes and toast. Take half of a fresh tomato and squeeze the juice onto a slice of toast. My bread of choice is a crusty baguette but feel free to substitute with your own favorite. Drizzle with fine olive oil — Spanish if you have it — and add a pinch of salt. Then all you’re missing is the key ingredient: a slice or two of jamón. ¡Delicioso!
3 Non-Forbidden Fruit On a sweltering summer day, there’s nothing as refreshing and delicious as jamón and melon. The simplicity of the recipe (dare I even call it a recipe) makes it a favorite of Spaniards. Just a thin slice of jamón over a thin slice of a melon of your choice. In Spain, we often go for piel de sapo (Santa Claus melon), but cantaloupes and honeydews will do the trick just the same.
4 Let the Yolk Runneth Over There’s nothing like waking up your senses with a breakfast of jamón y huevos. Lay a few slices of jamón on top of a thin, lightly toasted piece of your favorite bread. Top with a pair of perfectly poached eggs. The flavors and textures of the yolk and jamón, with the added crunch of the toast, will set your day off to an unforgettable start. If poached eggs are not your style, scrambled works just as well.
5 The Perfect Pair Whenever I write about food, my Spanish heart always compels me to write about wine, too. The choices you have for pairing with jamón are infinito, and it all comes down to personal preference. If I were a sommelier (should I be so lucky), I would recommend a fully aged Red Rioja like Luis Cañas Reserva familia, a Rioja Alta 904 Gran Reserva, a Rivera de Duero Cepa 21 de Emilio Moro, or a Texan tempranillo from Pedernales Cellars. But if you prefer an sparkling wines (which is also a very interesting and a more refreshing match) try a Brut Cava Juvé y Camps Rose or Gloria Ferrer Brut from Somona. If you enjoy jamón as an appetizer, let me also recommend to pair it with a cold Shiner Bock beer from Texas!
P.S. Slices of jamón ibérico in Spanish are called lonchas, related to the English word lunch. So the road was paved many years ago for the arrival of this amazing product.
Manuel Murga, COO Acornseekers
Icons used under Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/legalcode
Artists: Jetro Cabau Quirós (ham), ▲▲▲ (melon), Creative Stall (tomato, bottles), Tom Glass, Jr. (egg)