Spanish Bellota Hams
Produced across Spain, especially in the southwest regions, Spanish Ibérico de Bellota hams (often known as pata negra) are one of the finest cured hams available anywhere. Because of its huge popularity all around the globe, Bellota Oro (a kind of Spanish ham) has been chosen the best ham in the world twice, in 2007 and 2010. This best of all Spanish hams, Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, comes from free range pigs that wander freely in the dehesa (native oak forests). Bellota ham is cured from two to sometimes four years before it is ready to be sliced and served.
Origin of Jabugo Ham
Jabugo ham actually comes from a town in Spain called Jabugo. Jabugo is situated in the province of Huelva, and became the first area to gain international fame for Jamón Ibérico de Bellota, though many other areas cure Ibérico ham as well. The main livelihood of people living in and around the small town of Jabugo is producing cured pork products like jamones, chorizos and paletas. Theirs is a tradition that spans centuries, and over that time bellota ham has been transformed from an ancient method of preserving pork to a true culinary treasure..
Tasting Ibérico Ham
The taste of Spanish Ibérico de Bellota ham is a delight that has to be experienced first hand. Just like fine wine, Spanish hams are stored at a specific temperature. Bellota hams preserve the best taste and texture when stored in the temperature range from 65 to 75° F. The way bellota hams are sliced also plays an important role in the flavor profile. The slices should not be longer than five to six centimeters (3 to 4 inches) and as thin as possible with a small amount of fat on the outer layer. Jamón Ibérico de Bellota is rich and intensely flavored, and one small slice is full of powerful flavors.