Iberian ham is one of the flagships of Spanish gastronomy, always present in our celebrations and special occasions, be they weddings, festive dinners and important meals. There are also those people, who cannot live without a leg of ham in their kitchen. In all situations, the ham can be the same or very similar, but why can they seem so different in terms of texture and almost taste? The answer is in the cut. In search of the perfect slice of ham. A question arises: what does the perfect slice of ham look like? Ideally, cut the slices very thin (almost transparent) about 5 x 6cm. It is the perfect size that will allow us to savour it and enjoy each note of flavour, each slice must have a part of fat, in this fat is where good Iberian ham keeps its secret. By cutting the ham, the correct way increases the chances that the flavour, texture and aroma of cured Iberian pork meat can be appreciated in each slice.
The tools we need to carve perfect slices are few, although very important: Very sharp ham knife to cut very thin slices. Sharpener or sharpener, which will help us keep the edge of our knife in perfect condition. A knife with a short and wide blade to open, clean and shape the ham.
Preparing the ground
Starting at the beginning, assuming that we have just bought an Iberian ham with black leg, it will come wrapped, perfectly prepared for transport. So the first thing to do is remove all the packaging and let it breathe in a cool, dry place.
Just when the piece of ham is to be opened, it will be placed in a ham holder. The most optimal will be those that are more horizontal, that is, those where the leg forms parallel with the table or support on which it is resting. It will be adjusted so that it is fixed. and with the hoof facing upwards, to begin the cut by the “mace”.
Once the ham is placed, we must proceed to clear the part that we all want, the precious Iberian product. To do this, with the short knife we will remove the skin and the fat or yellowish bacon, the one that is a little oxidised until a slight veining of the color of the ham is seen. Finally, to finish preparing it, we will make a deep cut in the area of the hoof. This will limit the path of the blade and delimit the cut. At that time, we have the piece ready to start cutting it.
It is wise to save some of the large pieces of bacon that we have removed. Once we finish cutting, we will place the fat plates on the cut area, this will prevent oxidation and it will not dry out.
The art in the form of a slice of Iberian ham pata negra
Let’s remember the importance of sharpening the knife very well. This is one of the most important keys to cutting our ham slices well.
Once everything is ready, we can start to extract the much appreciated slices of Iberico pata negra:
- We will place the knife as horizontal as possible with respect to the leg.
- We will make a small incision, tiny, just deep that will mark the beginning of the slice and from that incision, in a very slow zigzag movement of about 12 or 15 centimeters of travel between each zigzag, we will slide the knife. Very gently, we are not in a hurry, the delicacy is maximum.
- Once we have traveled about 6 centimeters, it is time to finish the cutting process. We incline the knife very, very slightly outwards and continue with the zigzagging until we finish the slice.
- Have we left a slice of about 6 cm long and about 4 or 5 wide, thin and almost translucent like a sheet of paper? Congratulations! You have obtained the perfect slice of Iberico ham with pata negra.
The last step is to present properly our carved ham
We have been cutting, slice by slice, zigzag by zigzag, with patience and delicacy. But something is missing for the presentation to be perfect, the plating. We have a masterpiece in our hands and we want to present it as such.
In a plate of about 30 centimeters, as flat as possible and at room temperature or warm we will place slice by slice, starting from the edge and by means of circumferences, we will complete turns of the plate until we reach the center.
It would be interesting to orient the slices in the same position, with the part with the greatest amount of bacon towards the inside of the plate and, if we also make sure that the separation between the slices is uniform, we will have a plate worth framing. Or rather, a dish worth tasting.
Now that you know how to cut the perfect slice. From JamondePataNegra.com, as experts in Iberian hams, we encourage you to practice, just practice and the enjoyment will turn you into a true master ham.