You’ve likely heard of Prosciutto- one of the most popular cured meats on the market, but what about its Spanish cousin: Jamón Serrano? Similar in appearance but noticeably different in taste, this unique pork product calls in some questions. How do you serve it? Can it be eaten raw? How is Jamón Serrano different than Prosciutto? We’re here to answer these questions so you can open up your taste buds to a new, delicious, cured meat that you’ll want to incorporate into your special occasions and everyday recipes.
Before we dive in, lets lay down a few fundamentals. We will first get you familiar with what Jamón Serrano is made of, its process and techniques, and how it differs from a similar cured meat product.
Jamón Serrano is a Spanish-style slow aged ham made from a hind pork leg cut. The secret to Jamón Serrano’s flavor development lies within its delicate aging process and the addition of one simple ingredient – sea salt.
Like many other cured meats, it is slow aged over time with emphasized control of temperature, humidity, and airflow. After 11 months of aging in cool, ambient temperatures, hams are moved to an elevated temperature chamber to rest for an additional 4 weeks prior to being hand inspected and packed. This critical step imparts Jamón Serrano’s signature bold, woody flavor.
Volpi sources all our pork from family farmers we trust with hogs always Raised Responsibly™. The hog leg is trimmed and prepped to be salted. First, a wet salt is applied which penetrates through the meat to ensure proper preservation for safe consumption. The leg is then washed and hung to air dry for over 11 months, slowly concentrating the natural earthy flavors of the pork. At this point, the product is removed from the drying room and placed into a room with an elevated temperature where the outer layer of fat rancidifies. During this key process, the meat develops the distinctive, woody flavor of Jamón Serrano. Through the full aging process, it is cured with the bone in, which contributes to the intense depth of flavor found in the final product. After our Master Salumiere performs an inspection using all five senses, it is deboned and sliced paper-thin.
As Prosciutto is to Italy, Jamón Serrano is to Spain. The Spanish ham’s history dates all the way back to the Roman Empire and is now largely ingrained in the traditions and customs of the Spanish regions. The name “Jamón” is Spanish for ham, where “Serrano” refers explicitly to the cut of pork.
It can be eaten right out of the package and enjoyed in its purest form. The combination of the sea salt with the aging time keeps bacteria out, allowing for it to be consumed without the need for cooking.
Due to the aging process, a full bone-in leg of Jamón Serrano would last forever without perishing, though, the majority of those who enjoy this savory pork product buy it sliced and packaged. In this form, we recommend consuming it within four months of purchase for maximum taste and freshness. Once the sliced product is opened, it’s best to consume within one week as the meat will begin to oxidize, altering the overall taste and color.
Both Jamón Serrano and Prosciutto are aged for twelve months, using Raised Responsibly™ pork and sea salt, though the technique is what sets these two artisan meats apart. Placing it in an elevated temperature environment for 4 weeks provides the woody, nutty flavors, deep aroma, and firm texture of the final product compared to the earthy, slightly salty taste of Prosciutto.
When serving a specialty meat, it is not complete without a wine that complements its rich flavors. Jamón Serrano’s complex flavors pair best with a bold, red Rioja to bring out warm flavors. Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine, is another great option if you prefer white or rosé over reds. After discovering your favorite Jamón Serrano and wine combination, get creative and experiment with other cured meat and wine pairings.
The good news is, there are no rules, and you can serve this delicate meat however you fancy. Traditionally, it is served as thin slices and enjoyed on its own or with crusty bread. It can also be placed on a charcuterie board, layered onto a bocadillo – a Spanish style sandwich snack – or chopped & tossed into croquetas.
Like Prosciutto, Jamón Serrano makes a standout addition to any charcuterie board.
Use the thin slices to let your creativity shine with shapes and folds to create a stunning charcuterie display. The sweet and buttery flavor of Marcona almonds make a great addition to a board. Then, pair with a handful of classic Manzanilla olives to provide a briny bite and bright pop of color. Don’t forget Manchego cheese, a raw sheep’s milk cheese with a velvety texture and roasted nutty flavor.
Due to its flavor & simple ingredients, Jamón Serrano is easily combined with a wide variety of other charcuterie items that complement its bold taste and texture. New to charcuterie? Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get started. You won’t regret incorporating it into your next charcuterie board occasion!
This unique artisan meat can transform any average meal into a superior, flavorful dish. It works as a delicious addition to sandwiches, pastas, salads, soups, and even brunch dishes. The deep flavor offerings of Jamón Serrano make it an easy way to add a robust, meaty element to almost any traditional recipe.
While you’ve likely found yourself with a melt-in-your-mouth slice of Prosciutto before, there’s a good chance you had yet to be made aware of, the unique experience of Jamón Serrano. Now, you’re on your way to elevating your everyday food routines and recipes with Jamón Serrano’s delicious, remarkable flavors and versatility.