How to Buy Iberico Ham Leg: A Guide for Gourmet Lovers
Iberico ham leg is one of the most exquisite and sought-after delicacies in the world. It comes from the Iberian pig, a unique breed that roams freely in the oak forests of Spain and Portugal, feeding on acorns and herbs. The result is a ham with a rich, nutty flavor, a tender texture, and a marbled fat that melts in your mouth.
But how do you buy iberico ham leg? What are the different types and grades of iberico ham? How do you store and slice it? And how do you enjoy it to the fullest? In this article, we will answer all these questions and more, so you can make an informed decision and savor this gastronomic treasure.
Types and Grades of Iberico Ham Leg
The first thing you need to know when buying iberico ham leg is that there are different types and grades of iberico ham, depending on the breed of the pig, its diet, and its curing process. Here are the main categories:
- Iberico de Bellota: This is the highest quality of iberico ham. It comes from purebred or crossbred iberian pigs that have been fed exclusively on acorns during the last months of their lives. The acorns give the ham its distinctive flavor and aroma, as well as its high content of oleic acid, a healthy monounsaturated fat. Iberico de bellota ham is cured for at least 36 months, resulting in a dark red meat with a silky texture and a complex taste.
- Iberico de Cebo de Campo: This is the second highest quality of iberico ham. It comes from purebred or crossbred iberian pigs that have been fed on a combination of acorns, grass, and grains in the open fields. Iberico de cebo de campo ham is cured for at least 24 months, resulting in a reddish meat with a firm texture and a balanced flavor.
- Iberico de Cebo: This is the lowest quality of iberico ham. It comes from crossbred iberian pigs that have been fed on grains and cereals in indoor farms. Iberico de cebo ham is cured for at least 18 months, resulting in a pinkish meat with a soft texture and a mild flavor.
Within each category, there are also different grades of quality, depending on the percentage of iberian genes in the pig. The grades are: 100% Iberico (purebred), 75% Iberico (three-quarters), 50% Iberico (half), and less than 50% Iberico.
How to Store and Slice Iberico Ham Leg
Once you have chosen your type and grade of iberico ham leg, you need to know how to store and slice it properly. Here are some tips:
- Storage: If you buy a whole iberico ham leg, you should hang it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. Ideally, the temperature should be between 15Â°C and 25Â°C, and the humidity should be between 60% and 80%. You should also cover the exposed part of the ham with a cloth or paper to protect it from dust and insects. If you buy a sliced or vacuum-packed iberico ham leg, you should keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready to consume it.
- Slicing: To slice an iberico ham leg, you will need a special holder (called a jamonero) to secure the ham in place, a long and flexible knife (called a jamonero knife) to cut thin slices along the grain of the meat, and a sharp knife (called a puntilla) to trim off the fat and rind. You should start slicing from the narrow end of the ham (called the babilla), which has less fat and dries faster. You should slice only as much as you are going to eat at once, as the ham loses its flavor and moisture when exposed to air.
How to Enjoy Iberico Ham Leg
The best way to