Serrano ham is Spanish ham that’s air-dried. In terms of preparation, the pigs’ legs are cut, washed, and wrapped in salt to keep them fresh for up to two weeks.
Then, because the ham must be sweet, the salt is rinsed away. After that, the legs are hung to age, either for a few months or several years (with an average of about 9 months).
So, given all that – is serrano ham cooked? Here, I’ll answer this question in detail and provide some additional tips on serving it.
Do You Have to Cook Serrano Ham?
Jamón Serrano is a tasty, natural ham that has been cured in the rural air. If you’re wondering if Serrano ham is cooked – no, it’s not.
It’s subjected to a prolonged curing process, resulting in a rich taste and fragrance.
It may be served in paper-thin slices with olives and cheeses, or it can be used to season your favorite Spanish dishes. There’s no need to cook it at all.
Note that it isn’t a good idea to freeze the ham, either. This harms the meat by destroying the textures and flavors created by the curing process.
Instead, keep your complete, bone-in jamón in a cold, dry, and ventilated place, either in a holder or hung by a rope.
Always cover the sliced portion with plastic wrap or a little of the trimmed fat layer after slicing to retain the richness, moisture, and taste of your ham.
If you really want to cook the Serrano ham, you can do so. It’s not a complicated process, as you can fry it or bake it.
Combined with pasta or wrapped up a fish fillet, Serrano ham will bring an authentic touch of Spanish culture to your cooking.
Can You Eat Serrano Ham Raw?
Ham is cured pork, not raw meat. So, you can eat it as is, without cooking it, since it’s already been through a curing process that makes it safe to eat.
Like similar European products, an aged farm ham is delicious sliced and eaten raw.
It’s easy to store serrano ham. The ham will be waxed and covered in the rind when you purchase it.
You may keep it in a cold room or fridge (just not the freezer) for a whole year or even more. But it’s advisable to eat your ham in about three months after slicing it.
How Is Serrano Ham Served?
Serrano ham is one of those delicacies that must be presented properly.
You should arrange the pork slices on a platter and garnish with herbs. This will have no effect on the flavor or aroma of the entrée. Then the rest of the components are served separately.
Serrano ham should be placed on a heated dish or a hardwood board.
Serrano ham is perfectly paired with:
- Fruits (melon, pears, figs)
Serrano ham is frequently served as a snack instead of marbled steak cuts, presented as a separate entrée.
Fruits and wine bring out the exquisite flavor and scent of dry-cured beef.
Fruits include peaches and figs, and melon with Serrano and Iberico ham is regarded as a true classic that every self-respecting foodie should try at least once in their lifetime.
To make a salad with Serrano ham and melon, follow this simple recipe:
- Place a few cherry tomatoes, arugula, green salad leaves, walnuts, and raisins on a plate and top with a dash of sea salt. Crush it with your fingers, and drizzle some olive oil on it.
- Chop the melon into thin slices and arrange them on the salad. Finish with a few cuts of thinly sliced Serrano ham and drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over it if it’s to your taste.
Note: Balsamic vinegar can be pretty overpowering, so I suggest omitting that ingredient to enjoy the full ham taste.
Jamón is traditionally served with alcohol as well. It’s usually paired with a dry wine from the same region produced by the ham.
Ideally, these should be Spanish or Tuscan wines, but different varietals from other countries work just as well.
The most important thing is to avoid is consuming sugary drinks. The excessive sweetness might overpower the exquisite scent of dried pork legs.
Fresh wines with a gentle fruity finish are preferable. This option is delicious when combined with Serrano ham and fresh fruit.
Pinot noir wines pair perfectly with this dish.
If you’re not a wine person, Serrano ham can be eaten with cold champagne – but it must be dry and not sweet.
Quality original artisan beers are occasionally served as well. The ale should be light and refreshing, with a citrus or wheat finish.
Serrano ham cured with salt is from Spain’s mountainous areas. For many, it’s the most famous meat from the country.
The ham has a robust taste and hard texture and is traditionally created by salt-curing a leg of hog in a wooden hut for at least nine months.
This dish is also known as pata negra or black leg. The leg is black in color, and the ham is traditionally served during family functions or during festivities like Christmas.
The ham should be served thinly sliced. On special occasions, it is sliced right off the entire cured leg, which is presented on a table or tray.
Due to the curing process, this salty delight can be eaten raw. This delicious meat doesn’t have to be cooked but can be, depending on your preferences and the dish you’re preparing.