Spanish ham is one of the star products of our cuisine and is used in a wide variety of dishes. But, What type of ham should you use for cooking? When choosing your cured ham, you need to consider several aspects because it's not the same to make a stew as it is to make croquettes. That's why, at Enrique Tomás, we'll explain which ham is best for each preparation.
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What type of ham should you use for stewing?
Spanish cuisine includes many hearty dishes like lentils or Madrilenian stew, and one of the main ingredients in these types of stews is ham. But, can you use any type of ham? No, each preparation requires a different type of cured ham because the flavor of the ham bone is not the same as the meat from the area where the cubes or slices are extracted. Depending on where the product is obtained from the leg, your dish will have a different taste. For example, when making lentils, the best option is to incorporate the ham in cube form, while the stew requires a ham bone to give the broth all its nuances.
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In addition to selecting the right ham format, you should choose the type, and the best option is iberian ham. Why? For a very simple reason, Gran Reserva ham is too salty and could make your dishes too strong. On the other hand, iberian ham has a salt level more suitable for cooking and, thanks to the fat, will make your dishes more flavorful.
Remember that the authentic ham from our peninsula is oilier due to the fat infiltration by the pigs it comes from, and this unique genetic condition gives its meat an unmatched flavor and texture.
Ham for delicious croquettes
We've already mentioned that the best option for making lentils is using cubes, while the bone is more suitable for the stew, but How do you make creamy iberian ham croquettes? The advantage of this dish is that if you have a leg or shoulder at home, and the first layer of meat dries out after opening, you won't have to discard it. You can use these slices to make croquettes because they will be just as delicious. Once you finish and taste them, you'll see that there is no difference.
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Ham as the main ingredient
In recipes like lentils, ham is just one ingredient in the dish; in others, like melon with ham or some soups and creams, iberian ham plays a more prominent role. In both cases, the best choice is to select a good iberian ham because only with top-quality raw materials will your dish have an excellent flavor.
Gran Reserva from white pigs tends to be very salty, so it's best not to use it in these situations. However, it's also not necessary to go for black hoof if you don't want to. Although we all know it's of the highest quality, an iberian ham from grain-fed or acorn-fed pigs with at least 50% purebred will suffice. Choose grain-fed for more elaborate dishes and acorn-fed for those in which ham is the main ingredient. Also, keep in mind that not all hams have the same intensity; for example, Huelva ham differs in intensity from Salamanca iberian ham. Choose your favorite!
In summary, What type of ham should you use for cooking? It depends on the dish you want to prepare. Follow our advice, and you'll surely get it right!