Tradition invites us to buy a whole Iberian ham or a whole Iberian shoulder. At most, we ask them to be sliced at our trusted store, either because our carving technique isn't very good or simply because we don't know when we'll eat it, and by having it sliced and vacuum-sealed, it lasts much longer, and we can have it on hand whenever we crave it.
On the other hand, buying a whole boneless Iberian ham is not very common in our culture, sliced, yes, but not in halves, especially when compared to most European cultures.
From Enrique Tomás, at least in our experience, the truth is that our boneless pieces are highly acclaimed beyond our borders. So, let us share our experience with you!
Enrique Tomás Boneless Ham
Our boneless ham consists of half-pieces from an Enrique Tomás ham or shoulder, whether it's Gran Reserva, de cebo, or de bellota, of the same quality as the ones we don't bone, and we sell them whole or sliced.
A specialist in this technique is responsible for deboning them one by one, manually, without the use of any machines; only a boning knife is used, so the piece remains whole but without the bone and its corresponding hoof. It's truly an art!
Processing of Boneless Pieces
The processing at Enrique Tomás is nothing more than cutting the pieces in half and vacuum-packing them for sale. What we just told you may seem very natural, but it's not always what is done elsewhere in the market.
Many times, these boneless pieces are made up of different loose parts, coming from different pieces, and they are joined together in a compact block, frozen so that they fit together well, and it appears as if they come from a single piece; when thawed, it looks like a half ham or shoulder. Furthermore, in this type of treatment of the pieces, it's easy to use some of lower quality.
Why Buy Boneless Ham?
From our experience, boneless hams are primarily used by bars or restaurants that have their own slicer. There are also families, especially larger ones, that have an electric slicer at home and tend to buy this format.
However, it's not common, as we mentioned at the beginning, if we want ham, we usually go to our trusted butcher in the market or the neighborhood store and ask them to slice it as we like it, thin or a bit thicker, more or less cured, etc.
On the other hand, in other places, like France, Germany, and other Nordic countries such as Finland or Sweden, it's more common to buy boneless pieces.
We believe that one of the reasons is that, obviously, Iberian ham is not easy to find in these countries, and they don't have the habit of going to small shops but to large supermarkets where products are mostly packaged and ready to take away. Hence, most households have their own slicer.
The important thing is no longer so much the format, as there are options for every need and every buyer, but the quality. A boneless ham has to be as good as a whole piece, just that without the bone, it dries out faster if not consumed within a reasonable time, especially after opening the vacuum-sealed package.
In any case, you will find all the guidelines and tips in our post on how to preserve a boneless ham.