Iberian ham…please rise your hand if you like it. I caught you!! I know you do. Is one of the pleasures of leaving in Spain, having Iberian ham around.
Although we all love it, we don't know much about it that's why I was so excited to attend an Iberian ham master class that was all about knowledge –and some tasting of course-.
I went to Reserva Ibérica where Manuel López the owner and a master of Iberian ham was waiting for us. Manuel is also known to be “an Iberian ham tuner”, an interesting word for someone who knows everything about a good Iberian ham, he selects the best ones, touches them and examines them to sell them in his shop.
The Iberian pig is different from the rest, is smaller and black and has a much slower growth. There are different kinds of Iberian pigs: they can grow eating acorn that is the most traditional (also a better quality), they can eat only fodder or be a mix diet between acorn and fodder.
Depending on what they eat, how are they cured and also if they are pure Iberian pigs or crossbreed affect the quality of the Iberian ham.
However, all of these pigs even though they are very different in quality and taste are called Iberian ham anyway.
I learned about the Umami that is the 5th taste in the human tong apart from sweet, sour, bitter and salty. A word loaned from the Japanese. Umami is a taste that can be translated as pleasant savory taste. This flavor is often described as meaty or brothy taste-. Iberian ham is one of the foods that can be described with this flavor: umami
We tasted three different kinds and qualities of Iberian ham:
From left to right, from lowest quality to highest:
1) Recebo – is the pig that eats mostly fodder- (120euros per piece): salty and the flavor of ham ends up very quickly when eating it.
2) Guijuelo (450-500 euros per piece): longer flavor and a bit sweet in the end of the taste in your mouth.
3) Jabugo (450-500 euros per piece): you salivate a lot more with this one and for a good reason. It has an intense flavor and it ends uo with a dried fruit touch (of course for trained palates only)
Wine-pairing with Iberian ham
Cava+ guijuelo= perfect match, they are balanced flavors.
Fino or rebujito + Jabugo: I am not very keen to try fino again, it was very disappointing the flavor for my taste. But I can assure you that even so
Recebo: with a strong drink it is not a good pairing as it takes out all the ham flavor.
Wine: we tasted a red wine that it was not really a good match for me with the ham, the strong flavor of the wine killed the ham. So if you want to pair it up with wine, better with a white wine, kind of Verdejo.
I loved the experience I totally recommended, I learnt a lot of things and I am sure next time I buy some ham I will know exactly what I am buying.
Disclaimer: This experience has been offered by Reserva Ibérica to a group of bloggers in Barcelona. As always the opinion is my own.