Iberico ham

On the last  evening in Spain we were invited to tell all what our favourite moment of the week had been. Perhaps somewhat facetiously I suggested that mine had been the half day I had spent in the house by myself feeling too unwell to make the trip to Granada and the Alhambra.

It got a laugh and there was an element of truth there as well. I spent the morning in bed and then had three hours sat outside in the cool sunshine of December. I had access to the internet (no kids taking up the Wi-fi) and ate a couple of ham sandwiches made with good bread looking out over the hills and olive trees that rose up all around the house. I also had a chance to poke round the place and take in some of its nooks and crannies.

But in that last paragraph there is a clue to one of the other highlights of the week because the house came with its own Iberico Ham in its stand.

A start had already been made on it when we arrived. Unfortunately that had resulted in the first few thick layers of fat being fed to the cats when it should have been kept for laying back on the exposed bits of ham to help stop it from drying out.

Over the week we took it in turns to slice at it. I don’t think any of use really did it justice with our cutting techniques. The knives were not sharp enough and the slices we cut were too thick, or misshapen, too small or too big. But whatever we cut it tasted very good. And what was worthwhile was to get a sense of the different flavours that came from the different parts of the ham. Those pieces that were still moist and came off almost like bacon and those pieces that were the most mature and were dark and dry and full of flavour. There was also the fat and how that melted against the warmth in our fingers as we tried to hold it still and the importance of having a bit of fat with each slice.

Since coming home I have watched a couple of videos showing master ham carvers at work and it is clear that we were getting lots of things wrong. I don’t think any of us was able to get a slice as wafer thin as it should be.

But if we had been doing that we would not have finished off the ham in a week.

I brought the bones back home with me together with a packet of fat both tucked into one of the bags. No doubt the results of that will be appearing on here soon.

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