Manual on how to cut and preserve ham
we will unveil the keys for the correct manipulation
all the tones and subtleties that this unique gastronomic jewel can give.
Its stylized and elongated silhouette, a thin shank, a black hoof, its V-shaped cut and the fluidity of its fat that melts when touched.
In addition, each piece has an identifying and an inviolable band, with the vintage and ham number, as great wines, which allows us to appreciate the extraordinary time of curing of each Joselito Ham.
In the ham there are four areas with different characteristics
The drumstick is the juiciest area and has the highest amount of meat, it is considered the noblest area since it usually offers a great amount of marbling
The babilla,which is the leanest and least juicy piece, is narrower and usually more cured than the drumstick.
The hid, at the opposite end of the hoof, is very tasty and has an appreciable fat content.
The hock,in the highest part of the drumstick, has an exquisite flavour and is very sweet and aromatic.
The equipment needed for cutting has types of knives:
The ham knife, long and flexible, with which we extract the slices.
A knife with saw teeth to remove the rind, similar to a bread-cutting knife.
A puntilla knife, a short and strong knife with tip, that makes precise cuts in the angular zones which has the important task of separating the ham from the bone.
If the consumption of the Joselito Ham is going to be fast we will start by the drumstick, placing the piece with the hoof looking up. If, on the other hand, we anticipate a slower consumption, usually at home, it is preferable to start with the babilla, since this part has less marbling and dries sooner.
The recommended cutting temperature is approximately 25°. In order to appreciate the organoleptic characteristics of the Joselito Ham, it is necessary that the ham stays at this temperature for several days, around 2 weeks.
Before starting to cut, we must first wash the outside of the ham. If we wash it with hot water and a scouring pad and we let it dry for two days, it will be in optimal conditions for consumption.
Once the rind is removed from the ham, we must remove the outer layers of intense yellow fat. We will always cut in direction from the hoof to the hip bone.
If the consumption of Joselito Ham is expected to be on the same day, we can remove the skin and fat, leaving visible the whole piece perfectly clean. On the other hand, if the ham is to be consumed slowly, we will only clean the part to be consumed immediately. In this way, the rest of the piece will be well protected and we will avoid that the ham is exposed to the air.
We must keep several slices of fat from the first layers, thin and white, which will serve us later to protect the ham once we have finished the cut. It is very important that the cut is always clean and profiled to prevent it from drying out and stale flavours.
You have to be very carefully and do not remove the white fat that is inside. The healthy fat of the Joselito Ham is also responsible for its wonderful flavour and its combination with the lean is essential. This fat is aromatic, tasty, delicate smoothness and healthy.
Start cutting through the drumstick. We will now use the ham knife to cut the slices. After a first layer of fat, the lean which has an abundant fat veining will appear.
The blade of the knife should rest firmly on the ham, making a harmonious and slow swing, never forcing the cut. If the knife is sharp, it will slide easily with slight movements, as if we were playing a violin. The free hand is useful only to remove the slices once cut, you must always be careful to keep it above the knife.
The goal is to get small, thin slices about 4 or 5 cm long. To achieve a full flavour, it is desirable there is enough fat and lean in all slices.
Make sure that the surface is always flat, perfectly horizontal and with no steps or curves. If at any moment we lose righteousness, it is advisable to equalize it before going further. This way we will get a better use of the ham.
From the drumstick we can identify the different muscles by their different colour and we will try to obtain slices of the whole surface to mix their flavours
When we reach the hip bone, we will make an incisive cut with the fine knife around the bone to separate it from the ham. This will make it easier to remove the slices in this area. As the bone leaves the surface, we must perform this process again.
We continue to cut slices by the surface we had and by the new one that appears behind the bone, the tip.
As you continue cutting, the next bone that we will appear is the femur. At this point we will make better use of the ham by turning the knife along the bone. Once this part is finished, it is time to turn the ham and place it with the hoof facing down.
We started to cut the babilla. This is a narrower area with less bacon, so its aging is greater than the previous one. We continue to clean it in a similar way to the cut of the drumstick, with the difference that in this case we will remove less fat. It is recommended that the slices have a small outer fat edging, which will make them more appetizing.
At the top, we proceed to cut the knuckle, an especially tasty area. The knuckle can be cut into tacos in slices.
When we discover the meniscus, we will use the puntilla to separate the bone from the ham. This way we will be able to extract new slices perfectly.
We turn the ham back and continue cutting through the part of the drumstick. Once we reach the fibula bone, we will make a deep cut and lever it out.
Once you finish cutting all the slices of the piece, you can obtain taquitos from the most muscular parts, which can be consumed directly or used for cooking.
Also with the extra fat, the white one, we can enrich different dishes and is a part of the ham highly valued among the great professionals of the restoration.
Finally, the bone, although perfectly peeled, is ideal for flavouring stews, stewpots and broths. For this use, it is usually cut into medium-sized pieces, which can even be frozen without problem for future use.
Preferably hanging and without contact with other surfaces. Remove the paper with which it comes wrapped and leave it hanging uncovered to expose it to air.
Once we have started the cut, it is very important to make a good preservation to prevent it from drying out. To do this, we will use the outer grease of coating that we have saved in the first part of the process.
We add the slices of bacon on the surface of the exposed ham, as a second skin. Then, we wrap it tightly with transparent kitchen film. This way, we prevent it of having contact with the air, and the fat will continue to nourish the surface of our ham. Make sure that the entire cutting surface is covered with the bacon.
Joselito ham is a completely natural product with very special qualities, without additives or preservatives, so it needs a special treatment and to keep it in suitable conditions of temperature, aeration and humidity.
Cutting the ham is an art that is perfected over time and requires doing it calmly. Enjoy this ritual and carefully follow all the steps of the manual to achieve the maximum exquisiteness of your Joselito Ham.
The slices should be placed on the plate so that a certain overlap is achieved, which means that they should not be too far apart, but not too crowded. The slices should be thin and almost translucent, shiny, aromatic and juicy.
The good cutter also manages to distribute in each slice the fat of the Iberian with the lean, which will bring that unctuosity and excellence that characterise our ham.
Serve at room temperature about 25 °C.
Some cuts show a few white spots, with a limestone consistency and peculiar flavour, which are the result of a prolonged curing that guarantees the maximum quality of that ham. Technically, they are crystallizations resulting from the precipitation of tyrosine, which is an amino acid specific to the meat and caused by extreme temperature differences that take place naturally in our cellars during the long curing process of the Joselito Ham. It is a very good sign and should never be discarded.