The last 40 years has seen a culinary revolution in Spain. This revolution has made Spain one of the most notable countries in the world. The Spanish are proud of the uniqueness, quality and varied products they offer. However, there is one iconic and traditional product that has stood out for many, many generations as a favorite in Spanish gastronomy: Jamón.
Why? Because Jamón is more than a product... it is a feeling.
..and TXANTON is all about passion.
Jamón is the leg of the pig cured with salt and time-- as simple as that. There is no place in Spain where jamón is not the star of the show. It is in celebrations like weddings, birthdays, professional and formal gatherings, as well as meet-ups with friends. What is the truth and the emotion behind every jamón? PLEASURE. We eat jamónbecause there is pleasure in great food.
It’s quite curious to say that in all these celebrations, the true stars are the professional jamón carvers. It is exciting to see their skills and concentration while they cut just as how a pianist caresses each piano keys with suave. Carving jamón is an artisan job of its own. People get enticed to witness a perfect jamón slice is nearly see-through and stays close to the jamón cutter to ensure they always get as many slices to satisfy their palates in every bite.
The production of a jamón, sometimes can take as long as 5 years beginning from the attention and care needed to make them to grow strong and healthy, to the duration their legs are cured and preserved under very particular conditions and finishing with the last cut which revels jamón is ready to be consumed at its most perfect moment.
These are the main steps for the production of Jamon
During the Winter:
DESPIECE - A process of cutting the legs of the pig.
PERFILADO - When the legs are cut, they pass to “the outline” (perfilado in Spanish). This process eliminates the part of the skin and the part of the fatty layer just to give the jamón an usual cut and shape.
SANGRADO - Before the salting process, it needs to be ensured that the jamón has properly bleeded. This process (or in spanish) can be made by hand or by mechanical rolling pins and weights to massage the jamón. This process is also very important to avoid blood clots which can ruin the aesthetic, the smell, and the flavour of the jamón.
SALAZON - The only way to keep the leg in good condition after slaughtering is to cure it with marine salt. The time that the jamón usually stays in salt depends on its weight (average 1 day per kilo whether Jamon or Paletilla).
During the Spring and the Summer
LAVADO Y ASENTAMIENTO - A process of cleaning the jamón from the salt. This is made basically to remove the crust of salt which could complicate the drying and maturation process. The jamones are cleaned in big buckets of water where they are delicately brushed to avoid damages.
The pieces remain in a special cold storage for 2 months under 5 degrees and, maintained on 80% to 90% of humidity levels. Once asentamiento is done, the pieces are ready for Curación.
CURACION - The process of drying and maturation. A “Maestro Jamonero” takes charge of every detail in this process.
This basic step of curing is to allow the jamón to lose just the right amount of water until it begins to get the characteristic aroma that fills one’s nose when walking into jamón storage.
With the coming of Autumn
BODEGA - In this phase, the pieces will be transferred into the underground cellars with constant temperature and humidity. This is where all the pieces will be ageing until they get a perfect organoleptic quality.
After months or years depending on the quality of the piece
CALADO - A sensorial technique which, after piercing the jamón in some areas with a cow-bone made skewer or known as “cala. The “Maestro Jamonero” immediately smells it just to check if the jamón has the right aromas depending on its classification or kind.
To make jamón even better, there are two main factors: the breeze and feed. The final result will be also influenced by the optimum time of CURATION. Thanks to the influence of these two factors that are present in a country where the climate is varied and consistent, Spain is able to offer three categories: Jamón Serrano, Jamón Iberico and Jamón Iberico de Bellota.e and preserves it for a longer period of time.
To make good jamón, you need a big and fatty pig. The fat does not only contribute to the flavor of the meat, but it allows the leg to withstand the complete natural curing cycle and preserves it for a longer period of time.
Whether in Spain or in abroad, there is no denying that just about everyone seems to love Spanish jamon. Though cortador de jamones or in lay man’s term, jamón carvers make it look easy, it’s a skill that requires knowledge, dedication, and a whole lot of practice.
| Maestro Cortador
Gerson Rodriguez, with more than 10 years of experience in the art of Jamón Carving, arrived to the Philippines on 11th Jan 2015 to join our Txanton Family and to share with us all his knowledge about the Ibérico world.
With time, he passed his knowledge and skills to our very own Sheryl Sabio and Mary Ann Pasquel helping them to become the best Master Carvers or Maestras Cortadoras in the Philippines.