Jamon Serrano is dry, salty air-cured ham from Spain. and is part of the Spanish diet, no matter which region of the country. Although it is available sliced and sealed in small packages, whole Spanish hams are available in the USA and around the world. If there are ham lovers in your house, buying packages of sliced ham is expensive, so you may wish to consider purchasing a whole leg. Before grabbing the nearest knife to cut into it, stop! Knowing the parts of a Spanish Serrano ham is very important to cut it correctly.
Whole Serrano hams are sold bone-in or boneless. Both have the same distinctive parts:
- La Maza - the round side of the ham.
- La Babilla - the side opposite the maza. This is the straighter or flatter side of the ham. It is sometimes called the contramaza.
- La Punta is the wide end of the ham, where it would join the hip of the pig. Normally, the ham is placed in a holder called a jamonero, and the ham rests on la punta.
- La Pezuña - the hoof. Most whole hams sold in Spain and other European countries include the hoof. In accordance with USDA regulations, Serrano hams sold in the USA have the hoof or pezuña removed.
Although there are more Spanish names for each small "sub-part" of a ham, the four parts listed above are the only ones needed to slice a ham.
In order to cut the ham (bone-in or boneless), it is placed in a jamonera, which is a special holder that secures the ham at an angle resting on the punta and the hoof end angled up. This makes the ham easier to slice. One of the photos here shows a ham in a traditional wooden jamonera.
If the ham will be consumed in 3 days or less, cut the maza side first. Most people do not eat the whole ham in 3 days or less. Therefore, they start by cutting the babilla side.
Size, Price and Availability of Serrano Hams
The average size of a Serrano ham is between 15 to 20 pounds with the bone-in. Boneless hams are also available and average between 12 to 14 pounds.
At the time of publication of this article, whole Serrano hams are available from various internet retailers as well as gourmet food stores and average in price from $180 - $250, plus shipping.
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