Recently, more and more often you can hear the word "hamon" from the lips of a modern layman. What is it and what does it eat with? Jamon is a national Spanish dish, an exquisite delicacy that has gained worldwide fame, primarily due to its bright taste. But few people know that in his homeland, in Spain, he is valued not only for this. Jamon is also a dietary product, and its composition is a set of micro and macro elements necessary for life support, which makes it not only tasty, but also useful. Even the Nobel laureate, the famous Spanish doctor Grigorio Maranion, called jamon a medicine for its nutritional value and easily digestible properties.
A bit of history
The history of this dish has more than two thousand years. Naturally, she overgrown with legends and traditions. This exquisite delicacy was served at the table for the great emperors, and served as a compulsory diet for Roman legionnaires and Spanish soldiers. Recipes that existed in those days, came to us in full safety and now. Eating jamon for food, we can rightfully assume that they visited the imperial dinner party.
Some experts say that jamon appeared at a time when salt began to be used closely for harvesting for the winter and long-term storage of products. Salted meat was often the only salvation in the famine for many.
Others tell a legend about how a sinking pig was caught in a river. This eccentric could not get out of the water for a long time. The river originated in salt deposits, and the pig, floundering in its waters, was saturated with salt through and through. Allegedly, it was then for the first time that they tasted salted pork.
And only in the XVIII century began the mass export of dried pork to different countries. And so I liked that it is still very popular all over the world.
Description and varieties of jamon
In fact, jamon is a pork jerky ham. But such recipes exist among many peoples, why did the Spanish version acquire world fame? It turns out that the matter is not only in the correct cooking technology. A large role is played by the breed of pigs from which it is made, and the individual environmental conditions for their cultivation. Often affects the taste of jamon, their nutrition with acorns of Spanish cork oaks. There is practically no grass on the pastures where they are fed, but there are plenty of acorns there. Specially so that the pigs do not spoil the roots of the trees, they are punctured by patch, making the digging process almost impossible.
Hamon is usually called the hind pork leg, while the front one is called the pallet or delantero. However, outside of Spain, the common name "jamon" was firmly stuck to them. The dried pork shoulder also has its name - lomo.
There are two main types of jamon:
- serrano (Serrano) - made from white pig meat;
- Iberico (Iberico) or Pata Negra (black leg) - black pig meat is used for its preparation.
Iberico is considered the best variety of jamon. The pigs from which he is preparing have a black hoof, from where their name came from. In turn, in this jamon one can also distinguish two varieties that differ in the principles of feeding and diet:
- bellota - pigs fed exclusively by acorns are used for cooking;
- de cebo - pigs for the preparation of this ham are fed with acorns and fodder.
They produce jamon in almost all of Spain, except for the coast. Each province has its own quality standards, which guarantee that natural jamon is produced here and all traditions and rules are observed during its preparation. Each jamon, as well as elite brands of Spanish wines, has a tag, the so-called quality mark - Denominacion de Origen. It contains all the basic characteristics of jamon:
- pig number;
- ham weight before salting;
- start date of salting;
- deadline for sending to the camera;
- exposure time.
Several of these quality marks can be distinguished: cecina de León, guijuelo, jamón de Teruel, dehesa de Extremadura, jamón de Huelva, jamón de Trevélez.
The process of preparing an elite high-quality jamon begins with the correct and high-quality fattening of pigs. For this, a special diet is used, thanks to which they gain a certain mass. Pigs are released into the pasture during the period of acorns ripening - from about mid-October to mid-February. It is recommended that you do not constrain the animals - no more than fifteen per hectare are allowed to be bred. To get an elite jamon, you need to kill such pigs before the end of March.
Butchering pork carcasses is also a kind of art. The ham must have its classic shape. Also, a shred of wool is specially left on it, as evidence that it is made of a black pig of the Iberian breed.
The very first and most important action in its manufacture is salting. To do this, it is thoroughly sprinkled with salt to remove excess water. The time allotted for this process depends on many factors: the weight of the ham, the climate and others. On average, it takes about one day per kilogram of jamon. After that, the excess salt is washed out, and the meat is sent to rooms with a low temperature and stable humidity for drying.
It is best to start the drying process in winter or early spring, as it is characterized by a slow and gradual increase in temperature. This process lasts from six months to three years, depending on weather conditions, geographical location and mass of delicacy.
After drying, the jamon is moved to the lower floors in special cellars, where it undergoes a ripening process. It is suspended and left for the period necessary for ripening. It is determined for each "leg" separately, depending on its weight and quality. Thanks to the specific microclimate in the cellars, jamon gains its unique taste and exquisite aroma.
To determine the readiness of the meat it is pierced in three parts with a thin and long needle. It is by the aroma coming from the jamon that the completion of the drying process is determined.
Hamonera and Cortadors
Jamon is usually used chopped into the finest slices. Cutting it is a whole art, and specially trained people are engaged in it. For the process, a stand of the desired length is used, which is called a hamonera. It should be cut only by hand with the help of this stand and a special knife, since mechanical cutting can violate the taste of jamon.
Hamoners are mainly made of wood, about 50 cm long and about 20 cm wide. There is a screw on the bracket that serves to secure the "legs". By loosening it, you can turn the ham for slicing from different sides.
The art of slicing jamon is a very subtle art. And it is carried out by people who have been trained in this. They are called cortadors. The cutting is carried out in parallel with the fixed “leg”, the left hand of the cortador is always higher than the right. For lefties, this rule is reproduced exactly the opposite. Be sure to make sure that the ham is tightly fixed to the stand: it does not stagger and does not slide to the sides. Slicing is done with a long sharp knife with a thin blade. They cut it into very thin slices, and the bone remaining after slicing is great for making broth or various soups. There are even special establishments that serve jamon - hamonery.
Chemical composition and beneficial properties
In Spain, jamon is considered a dietary product. Its calorie content is only 160 kcal. It contains about 16 grams of fat, 31 grams of protein, and just 1 gram of carbohydrates.
It contains useful vitamins, especially a large number of vitamins A and E, which are responsible for the beauty and youth of the body. B vitamins are also present in it. The mineral complex is represented by phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and sulfur.
Tyrosine is contained in large quantities in the jamon, which contributes to the improvement of the thyroid gland and kidneys. He also takes an active part in the regeneration and restoration of cells, slowing down the aging of the body and prolonging its youth. Regular use of this delicacy has a positive effect on the cardiovascular and nervous system, improves the condition of the skin and hair.
Jamon fat is almost 70 percent composed of unsaturated oleic acid, which is completely absorbed by the body and also participates in all its metabolic processes.
This acid is famous for cleansing the body and removing harmful cholesterol from it, due to which it can contribute to the prevention of various diseases, such as atherosclerosis and hypertension.
How to properly store and serve the product
The fact that special coasters are used for slicing jamon has already been discussed above. But what if there is a lot of meat on the leg. You won’t eat the whole ham at a time. Usually, at the end of the meal, the jamon is wrapped in parchment soaked in olive oil. Store it in the refrigerator at a temperature of up to 10 degrees. The slice is usually covered with lard, which was previously removed. The shelf life of the cut product should not exceed more than five months.
Cold jamon is not served. Before serving, the ham is heated to room temperature, so it fully reveals its unique taste and exquisite aroma.
Many, having bought jamon in the store, paid attention to the mold on which the leg is covered. It appears in the process of cured meat in the basement, and it is she who is an indicator of the quality and naturalness of the product. This mold is of noble origin, and it will not bring harm to the body. To remove it, just wipe the ham with a napkin with olive oil.
Jamon in national cuisine
The most traditional combination in Spanish cuisine is jamon with melon. Sweet melon remarkably shades the salty delicacy, fully reveals its taste. This dish will satisfy the taste of even the most sophisticated gourmets. Olives and olives, various greens and cheeses are also recommended for use with jamon. You can use it with vegetables, especially tomatoes, eggplant, green beans. Sometimes it is consumed with fried potatoes, as well as with Italian pasta.
Various wines go well with this delicacy, especially dry red varieties, sherry and beer.
Harm and contraindications
This dish should not be used for individually intolerant pork, people prone to excess weight. With caution, it is worth using it for atherosclerosis, hypertension and diseases of the digestive tract.
Jamon is an exquisite Spanish delicacy that has won the hearts of gourmets around the world. Moreover, it is valuable not only for its luxurious taste. Its excellent composition makes it a very useful product, provided it is of course of moderate use. In Spain, it is generally considered a very dietary product, in addition, it is recommended for use in various age categories. There is even a diet based on the use of jamon. Since, due to its high digestibility and great influence on metabolic processes, it will really be useful for losing weight. And the Spanish doctor, Nobel laureate Grigorio Maranion in his writings mentioned that the high-quality composition of jamon turns it practically into a medicine. Of course, you should not abuse this product, especially if there are diseases of the digestive system. Hypertension and atherosclerosis can also serve as contraindications to the use of this treat. However, a small piece of such a delicacy is unlikely to cause serious harm to the body. Everything is good in moderation. And if you follow this rule, then you can safely use this gourmet dish without any risk to health.