Hello Cocinacas! Surely many of you like Serrano ham and Iberian ham, but when buying it you are not sure which part of the leg is the one you like the most. That is why today we want to talk to you about the different cuts of ham and how to differentiate them once they are already cut.
Ham is one of the most precious foods in Spanish gastronomy, to the point of having become one of the emblems of the so-called Brand Spain. This prestige responds to its quality and benefits that can contribute to our health (100 grams of Iberian ham concentrate 33% of the proteins we need in a day). That is why it is important to take into account some tips to buy a good ham. And it is also important to know the types that can be bought and which Iberian ham to choose if you opt for this one.
Another aspect to take into account are the different cuts of ham that we can find. We are not referring to the cutting styles, but to the paw area that is cut. It is not the same to cut the part closest to the hoof, than the totally opposite part.
If you choose buy the whole ham you can go testing each part to find out which one you like the most. However, if you choose to buy vacuum packed ham, the labels must specify the different cuts of ham and in addition, we will give you below the guidelines to know how to identify them at a glance.
The 5 parts of the ham leg
In each piece of ham you can see the different well-defined areas, since these provide us with different states of curing and different types of slices.
It is one of the most appreciated parts of the ham. If we put the piece with the leg towards us, the part that we see is the mace.
It is the widest for what it presents more meat and fat, therefore, it is the juiciest and tastiest of the whole piece and from which more slices can be obtained.
The mace has a smooth texture, with a medium-high intramuscular fat infiltration, while subcutaneous fat is high. Visually recognizable because it is a perfect ham slice with fat, a soft cherry color in the center of the slice and a darker cherry-red color in the last part.
Experts recommend taking the ham with cava or Sherry wines, in this case the mace combines perfectly with chamomile.
The stifle or counter
It is the opposite part of the mallet, much narrower because it has less meat and is also the most cured of the ham because it has less fat.
When you buy a whole ham and it is not going to be completely consumed immediately, experts recommend starting the piece from this part. In this way, it begins with the most cured and driest part, allowing the club to continue its healing process.
The stifle also has a medium dry texture, with very little intramuscular fat. Visually recognizable because it is a thin and short slice, with a strong cherry-red color. In this case, it pairs perfectly with a fino.
It is located in the highest part of the club (specifically between the cane and the club), where the first incision is made to start cutting the ham. It is the most fibrous part of the whole piece. It is a very aromatic piece, which tends to be sweet, but with a lot of flavor and abundant fat.
In the same area of the knuckle is located the hock, located between the tibia and the fibula. Due to its hardness and fibrousness, it is usually used to make ham tacos, which has a intense cherry-red color. This one has a hard texture, with intramuscular fat and no subcutaneous fat.
When pairing it with a sherry wine, opt for an amontillado or a oloroso.
The grey hair
It is the part that goes from the knuckle to the hoof (the latter is not edible). Being also very fibrous, like the knuckle, it is usually cut into cubes.
This way of savoring the ham provides different textures and flavors to the slices.
It is located at the opposite end of the hoof. It is highly appreciated culinary for being one of the tastiest parts of ham, since it contains a high percentage of fat.
Its texture is very juicy and contains both intramuscular and subcutaneous fat. Visually, it occurs in irregular slices of greasy dark red color, shiny.
It can be accompanied with an old amontillado or even with a chopped stick.
Did you know the different cuts of ham? If so, tell us through the comments which one you like the most and what you usually pair it with.
A good Iberian ham is eaten alone but if you want to prepare some Special dishWe propose you these ham spoons and whims or these delicious free-range broken eggs with Iberian ham. We hope you enjoy them.