Cured Spanish ham is a culinary tradition stretching back hundreds of years that has left a literal mark on the Spanish landscape. Historically, these hams were created to spread the seasonal bounty across the year. It just so happens that they taste darn good.
The City Larder team has done the hard yards, tasting much jamón and paleta from two of Spain’s premium - producers Muñoz Rojo and Blázquez. We’re proud to now offer 5 DOP jamón and paleta that are truly exceptional.
Little has changed across the years, with the curing process still rooted firmly in tradition. As a rule of thumb, for each kilogram of meat one kilogram of salt and one day is added to the curing process. That means a 16kg leg of pork is salted with 16kg of salt for 16 days. After this initial salt-cure, the legs are then fermented in a climate-controlled room and matured to grade.
To experience this unique sensory experience, these hams should be sliced thin and served at room temperature to allow the complex flavours and delicate mouthfeel to be fully appreciated.
A family-owned company from Murcia in south-eastern Spain, Muñoz Rojo have built on their ham-curing heritage to modernise production while honouring techniques steeped in years of tradition.
Jamón Serrano Reserva DOP
Made with the hind leg of the white Spanish pig, this jamón has been salted, dry-cured and then matured for 16 months. The yellow colouration and earthy, slightly funky flavours are both characteristic of Serrano jamón. Each leg approx. 5kg.
Jamón Iberico Cebo DOP
First generation crossbred pigs were selected for this particular product - the Iberian side bringing their unique flavour traits paired with superior fat penetration from the Doric side. This results in better tasting jamón, full of flavour with an enticing sweet aroma. These pigs are raised in semi-wild conditions outside of the Bellota season/system. Matured for 24 months. Each leg approx. 5kg.
A family-owned company, Blázquez is one of Spain’s most well-regarded producers of quality Iberico hams. From the fields all the way through to maturation, this fifth-generation company ensures animal well-being is foremost in the process. In fact, Blázquez has the largest forest holding in Spain with 100,000 acres of forest for their pigs to forage, eating up to 10kg of acorns per kilo of meat.
Jamón Iberico Cebo De Campo DOP
These 100% free range pigs forage amongst thousands of acres of forest, feeding on wild herbs and grasses. Consequently, this high quality jamón exhibits a complex flavour with well-developed muscle and fat distribution. Aged for a minimum of 30 months. Each leg approx. 5.5kg.
Paleta Iberico De Bellota DOP
Paleta is a great introduction to high quality Bellota ham. Made from shoulder, as opposed to jamón which is made from the leg, this beautifully marbled meat has an intense savoury flavour due to its unique muscle structure and higher concentration of fat. Being classified as De Bellota, these Iberian pigs feed on fallen acorns as they free range on dehesa pasture. Aged for up to 30 months. Each shoulder approx. 3.3kg.
Jamón Iberico De Bellota DOP
This exceptional quality Bellota ham combines glossy, dark crimson meat with strikingly white fat. With a low melt point, the rich, buttery and nutty aroma and flavour is easily enjoyed by the mouth’s natural temperature. Being classified as De Bellota, these Iberian pigs feed on fallen acorns as they free range on dehesa pasture. Aged for up to 48 months. Each leg approx. 5kg.
It can be tricky with all these Spanish words so here’s a little glossary cheat sheet.
Cebo – animals raised outside of the De Bellota season
De Bellota – pigs which feast on the fallen autumn acorns (resulting healthy mono-unsaturated fat high in antioxidants) without additional feed
De Campo – animals are free ranging
Dehesa – a unique ecosystem rich in bio-diversity integral to pigs raised for jamon as well as other native wildlife (southwest Spain)
Ibérico – rare breed black pig from the Iberian Peninsula of Spain and Portugal
Jamón – from the hind leg of the pig
Paleta – from the front shoulder of the pig
Reserva – designation of the finest ham conveyed each year by the Producers' Association of the Denomination of Origin
Serrano – jamon cured in the mountains of Spain