I’m far from being a vegetarian I simply couldn’t cope, although I don’t actually eat meat daily. I love to eat a whole range of fruit, veg, meat and fish, it makes food so much more exciting to have a selection. As a child I used to holiday in Spain frequently and we would enjoyed trying various Spanish culinary delights like Iberico ham, deep fried squid, patatas bravas and much more. The Spanish Interprofessional Iberian Pig Association hosted a blogger event recently showcasing a selection of exceptional quality Iberico ham cut and cooked by culinary experts. Florencio Sanchidrian, a world class expert in ham cutting has hosted events for everyone from celebrities to politicians, and demonstrated the best techniques to cut Iberico ham. Then Omar Allibhoy – Spanish chef, cookbook author and owner of four Tapas Revolution restaurants cooked some lovely Spanish dishes using Iberico ham for us to try.
I knew that there were special techniques for cutting meats and fish but have never really looked into these in the past. Florencio cut the ham to the music of his accompanying master flamenco guitar player. Florencio was very much the comedian and although he didn’t speak English his cutting skills and personality shone through as he cut fresh ham for the attending bloggers.
Watch out for that knife!!!!Jamón ibérico has a fabulously addictive flavour to it and as an added bonus it is far healthier that many of the other salamis and hams available to buy. Recognisable by its beautiful ruby red colour dappled with white streaks of flavoursome fat it is prized by top chefs and food lovers around the world. The meat itself has a sweet and salty flavour but the fat is similar to that of wagu beef as it is intermuscular rather than insulating fat and it is this fat that adds a unique nutty flavour that sets it apart from any other hams. Regular consumption of jamón ibérico, within a balanced diet, has been shown in numerous studies to have impressive benefits to the body. The beneficial effect is related to the content of polyphenols and monounsaturated fatty acids in Iberian hams. Polyphenols are potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatories substances at a vascular level (affects blood vessels), provided by the pigs feeding (in greatest proportion in the acorns that the pigs are fed).
Jamón ibérico is rich in protein, vitamins B1, B6, B12, vitamin E and minerals such copper – essential for bones and cartilages – calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus and finally, selenium, attributed to anti-aging properties. Iberian ham is also known to have one of the most “cardio-healthy” of all animal fats, even healthier than some plant fats – this is due mainly to two factors, the breed of pigs and their diet of acorns, grasses, cereals and vegetables.
Omar Allibhoy demonstrated 2 recipes at the event but I have managed to also get my hands on a third recipe for an extremely popular dish Tortilla with spinach and Jamon Iberico.
Pea soup with jamón ibérico
4 tbsp of Spanish extra virgin olive oil
2 slices of rustic bread
1 bay leave
3 garlic cloves
1 Spanish onion
50g of jamón ibérico
1 tea spoon of sweet pimenton
1 tbsp of plain flour
1 tbsp of Sherry vinegar
600ml of chicken stock
500g of frozen green peas
salt and black pepper
1. In a medium size sauce pan pour 1 tbsp of the oil and fry over medium heat the bread on both sides and reserve.
2. Pour the remaining oil and add the finely chopped garlic, onion and jamón ibérico and let it fry for 10 minutes.
3. Sprinkle the sweet pimenton and the flour and let it toast for 1 minute. Pour the vinegar and form a roux with it.
4. Bring the heat to its highest and stir constantly while slowly pouring the chicken stock so that the roux dissolves in the stock without forming lumps.
5. Add the frozen peas, season with salt and pepper and let it boil all together for 6 minutes.
6. Add the sliced bread and serve with some slices of jamón ibérico on top.
Tortilla with spinach and Jamon Iberico
1 Spanish onion
3 big potatoes (1kg)
100g of baby spinach
50g of jamón ibérico
8 free range eggs
Salt to season
Spanish olive oil for frying
1. Peel, wash and thinly slice the potatoes and Spanish onions in half moon shape slices.
2. Pour enough olive oil in a deep frying pan to cover all the onion and potatoes (but without them) over a high heat.
3. Once the oil is hot and when dropping a slice of onion it start frying immediately then you can add all the onion.
4. Cook it for around 5 minutes until is transparent and then add the sliced potatoes.
5. Cook them stirring from time to time for at least 15 minutes until they are soft and cooked throughout.
6. Drain the potatoes from the oil with a colander (keep the oil for other uses) and mix with the egg, baby spinach, thinly chopped jamón ibérico and season with salt.
7. To make the tortilla place a non-sticking pan over a medium heat and drizzle a bit of olive oil.
8. Pour the tortilla mix inside the pan and lower the heat to a minimum. After 3 minutes and with the help of a plate (always wider than the pan ) cover the pan and holding it tight with your hand flip the side of the tortilla and slide the ‘one-side-cooked’ tortilla back into the pan for an extra 3 minutes. Note: If it is the first time you flip a tortilla, you better practice with the plate and an empty pan first.
9. Depending on the size and depth of the pan in relation with the amount of tortilla mix, it will take longer or shorter in being cooked. I recommend to eat the tortilla when still runny in the middle.
Salmorejo with jamón ibérico (for 6 people as a tapa)
750g of ripe tomatoes
3 boiled eggs
1 garlic clove
150g of white bread
25cl of Spanish extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp of Sherry vinegar
50g of jamón ibérico de bellota
Salt and pepper
1. Start by soaking in water the bread cut in cubes without the crust.
2. Squeeze the water from the bread, chop the tomatoes, cut the egg in half and blend all of the ingredients (except the ham and 1 egg) in a glass blender until you have obtain a thick and smooth texture. Taste the seasoning and rectify if necessary.
3. Serve with chopped boiled egg and slices of jamón ibérico. Dip chunks of good bread and enjoy.
We also tried these bread sticks wrapped in ibérico ham.
Have fun making the recipes!
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