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The most typical ham available in Spain is distinguished by its salt cured process in cold mountain regions. It is generally thinly sliced and served raw as an appetizer. Known as jamón serrano or mountain ham, it is deep scarlet in color and the texture is chewy and more or less dry, depending on age. Some of these hams carry the name of origin and are favored from the black Iberian pig. Some names of the regions in Spain for the better hams include Trevelez in Granada, Jabugo in Huelva, Lerida and Teruel. These tend to be pricier than the typical jamón serrano.
The jamón serrano is believed to be the original source to the Italian prosciutto. During their reign, the Romans imported the black Iberian pigs back to Italy.
The ancient ritual to curing the jamón serrano is still followed today. The hams are cleaned and salted, which shields the meat from spoiling. The salt is washed off the ham after two weeks, and then they are hung up to for a period of six months. This painstaking method to formulate the delicious serrano ham does not end there; for the hams are taken into a drying shed at a higher elevation known as a secadero. Here they will stay suspended in the cool mountain air for an additional 6 to 18 months before arriving at the market or restaurant.
The jamón serrano can be added to recipes also, such the popular Croquetas de Jamón. This can be served as a hot tapas (appetizer) or prepared as an entrée with a salad and grilled vegetables as the side. Dining on this dish becomes perfect with your favorite beer as your beverage.
Servings: 4 to 6
• 2 eggs, beaten with a little water
• 4 tbs. flour
• 3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
• 1 cup of milk
• ½ lb of jamón serrano (can be substituted with prosciutto)
• ½ yellow onion, minced
• 2 cups of bread crumbs
• 1 pinch of paprika
• Salt and pepper
• Olive oil for frying
1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the minced onions until transparent.
2. Stir in the flour and cook it briefly, and add the milk and stir.
3. Season with salt, pepper and paprika.
4. Stir in the Serrano ham and pour the mixture into a Pyrex dish and place in the refrigerator until the mixture is solid.
5. Place the beaten eggs into one small bowl and the breadcrumbs in another.
6. With moisten hands, form the chilled mixture into cylinder shaped balls.
7. Dip each croquette into the bread crumbs bowl, then into the eggs and then back to the breadcrumbs once more. Make sure each one is well covered.
8. Leave the croquettes for 30 minutes to slightly harden before frying.
9. Heat additional oil in a frying pan or deep fryer and add croquettes, a few at a time until a golden brown. This will take approximately 3 minutes. Remove and place on paper towels to drain off excess oil and serve.
Other recipes by Veronica:
Chicken with Leeks and Mushrooms
Vieiras a la Gallega (Galician-Style Scallops)
Swordfish Alicante Style
Stuffed Pimiento Peppers, the Fire of Spain
Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelette)
Canelones Rellenos con Gambas y Merluza
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