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How You Can Slice Jamón Like A Master

April 2016

(Images Courtesy of Curro Carrasco)

One by one, Francisco “Paco” Carrasco laid out his set of carving knives on the wooden table. Jaleo’s chefs gathered around, eager for the start of the Professional Slicer’s master class in the art of carving Jamón Ibérico, Spain’s finest cured ham.

In fact, the lesson had already begun. “With just one knife it’s impossible to carve properly and make the most of the product,” Paco explained in Spanish. “You need a set.”

Spain’s crowning achievement in ham is Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, from black Iberian pigs that roam free in the Spanish countryside, feasting on acorns over fall and winter. The acorns’ fattiness contributes a rich, fatty flavor, transforming these pigs-- in the words of José Andrés-- into “the finest animals in the world.”

Paco shared his top tips before later carving tableside for Jaleo guests. Watch Jaleo’s website for future tableside carving occasions.

1. Invest in a jamonera, or ham holder, to secure the jamón in place and angle it for easier carving.
2. When carving, never put your hand in front of the knife.
3. Keep the outer layer of your jamón after you cut it away to expose the cured meat. When done carving, use it to cover the sliced area. This prevents the jamón from drying out.
4. For the richest flavor, slice the jamón so thin that it’s almost transparent. Include fat in each slice.
5. Serve ham at room temperature. Any ham that’s sliced should be consumed as soon as possible.
6. Make the most of your jamón! The bone makes flavorful stocks or stews.

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