Carrasco Jamon at Moma

Posted on January 27, 2010

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I went to a party for jamon yesterday. I kid you not. I guess it’s not really that surprising as jamon is not only a big deal but there seems to be some kind of pork in almost every dish in Spain (and in every single dish served at the party). I’m really starting to like Madrid.

This event was hosted by Carrasco which is one of Spain’s finest (if not the best) jamon producer in Spain. They didn’t disappoint. To taste their jamon, go to Mercardo San Miguel, which won the best gastronomic shop at the El Mundo Metropoli awards.

Not being content with just eating the jamon (ok, I am content with that but…) I wanted to learn more. So this is what I have gathered:

Once the pigs have weaned from the sow, they are fed grains. The best pigs are fed on bellota (hence the name jamon iberico bellota). The pigs are usually slaughtered at 12-18months old – it depends on a number of factors including weather and grains. The legs are then salted for a few days, usually up to 10. The meat is sweet because of the grain so they have to be careful not to overall salt and ruin the flavour.

The legs are then hung for 3 years, give or take a few days or weeks. Again this is judged individually and it’s based on a number of factors. The legs are hung in relatively cool places – often stores in the mountains.

The front legs weigh around 4kgs, the back legs around 7.5kgs (they are double this weight before they are salted). Back legs are better as more meatier but the front legs (paleta) are often bought bu couples or families for the house – the ham is best eaten in the first 10 days that it is open to the air.

There are a few ways to spot good jamon: Look for black hooves and thin ankles. There is a ‘J’ rating – the more Js, the better the jamon. And simply, it’s usually the case that the more expensive the jamon, the better it is.

Slicing jamon it is no mean feat. There are specialists for this and it is quite a trade. There is a certain way of slicing to get the most from the ham.

There are 101 recipes with jamon in. The bone is used to make stock for the Spanish soups and casseroles. No wonder they are so good.

The party served so many different dishes (my friend and I deliberately stood near the kitchens so that we could try things. shameless). Some of the dishes served were: moules with a light tomato and frothy sauce with crackling, croquettas, sweetbread with  creme de marron, prawn and pork skewers, pork sausage with a creamy paprika sauce, mini pork bocadillos, pork with mini chips and quails egg in shot glasses.

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