Just recently I was introduced to Serranto ham—a dry-cured product that’s eaten throughout Spain. You might call it Europe’s answer to cold cuts.
Ford and Ferrari
There are two types. The “Ford” version (Jamon Serrano or Mountain Ham) comes from white pigs and is eaten regularly in Spanish homes.
The other is the porcine “Ferrari,” (Jamon Iberico), with a price upwards to $500. It comes from dark-colored, black-hoofed pigs, that roam free and forage as much as 15 pounds of acorns a day.
I picked up a Serrano at Costco recently. It’s a pig leg in a kit. That is, the ham comes boxed with a wooden stand on which the meat sits. From there you can shave paper thin slices that look, and taste, much like prosciutto.
I only saw the Serrano at Costco. But I read on line that they carry the more costly version, too. The less expensive Serrano kit will run you a $100. That should last you from Halloween through New Years, or longer.
Centuries Old Process
Spanish hams have been processed the same way for hundreds of years: washed, salted, and hung to dry for several months to a couple of years.
Only about 5% of the hams bear the black tag of the most prized of the Spanish hams: De bellota Ibernian. The secret ingredient to these pricey hams is time and acorns. Acid in the acorns causes the meat to be tender. Some of the high grade hams cure for as long as 5 years.
How to Use Serrano
These Spanish hams can be used for tapas, croquettes, egg and pasta dishes, in a salad, on an antipasto plate with Manchego cheese, and on sticks with melon.
Besides all that, the ham slung artfully on its wooden cutting rack makes a stunning centerpiece. 🙂