Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Jamón Ibérico

A Fine Swine

The life of a prized pig in Spain is short, but sweet. The "Pata Negra" is an ancient breed native to the Iberian Peninsula in Spain. As a free-range, acorn-eating pig who stores more fat than other breeds, this pig produces the King of Spanish Ham - Jamón Ibérico. This most prized and distinctively flavored ham is cured much longer (14 - 36 months) than a traditional ham resulting in "an intense and complex flavor with an unparalleled note of sweetness." The charcuterie counter at Jungle Jim's International Market offers our customers authentic Jamón Ibérico for $119.99 per pound. We've been told that once a customer tries a sample, they are compelled to buy some because it tastes so luscious and those of us in the Cooking School agree. We've tried it and love it! Feel free to consult with Brad Hacker, the head of our cheese and charcuterie department.

Jamón Ibérico is a simple and sumptuous treat that can be readily prepared for a cocktail party or casual tapas dinner. Leigh put together three tapas that feature fresh produce and paper thin slices of this delicious ham.

Starting on the left, you'll see a fresh peach and ham combination, slices of plain ham, stuffed dates wrapped in ham and a crostini rubbed with vine-ripened tomato and topped with ham. We asked Dave Schmerr, the head of our wine department, to recommend a Spanish wine to complement the tapas: a light Spanish Grenache like Borsao would be great..$7.99 and a steal for the price...also a nice dry Rose called Marques de Caceres would be fine (around $10 per bottle). Or to be completely indulgent, try the fantastic Sierra Cantabria Rioja at $64.99!

Fresh Peaches with Jamón Ibérico

2 ripe peaches, halved and stones removed
4 slices of Spanish ham
Cracked, fresh pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Arrange the peach halves cut side up and stuff the centers with a slice of ham. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with freshly cracked pepper. Allow the stuffed peaches to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Serves 4.

Iberico Ham Bites with Cambozola and Prunes

3 ounces cambozola cheese, room temperature
18 walnut halves, lightly toasted
18 large pitted prunes
18 thin slices Iberico ham

Mash cheese in a small bowl with a fork. Spread cheese mixture on prunes and press a walnut half on each. Roll each piece in a slice of ham and secure with a toothpick. Arrange on a platter and serve. Makes 18

Spanish Ham and Tomato Crostini

6 slices French style bread
1 large ripe tomato
6 thin slices of Iberico ham

Preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Lightly toast bread on both sides. Cut the tomato in half and rub the cut sides of the tomato on each slice of bread. Place a slice of ham on top each piece of bread. Place the slices back in the oven for a couple minutes or until the fat starts to soften and the meat glistens. Serves 6. 

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