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Serrano Ham in the Kitchen of Julio Fernández

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Julio Fernández
Abantal Restaurant.
Seville (1 Michelin Star)

Serrano ham is very important in cooking from an organoleptic standpoint, as it has original and very positive characteristics for use in many different dishes.

Nutritionally speaking, it is high in oleic acid and iron, and good for people of all ages. It is also a fantastic product for use in many different dishes and meals because of its unbeatable quality-price ratio.

All of these properties make this an excellent, widely used product.

What we need to look for on the label is for it to be specified as "Serrano ham", as well as the curing period. The amount of time the product has been cured will always appear on the label, and we need to check for this depending on how we are going to use the ham.

It is also important to decide how to slice it, depending on what we are going to do with the product. Whether we slice the ham thick or thin is determined by the use it will have. A standard cut is used for serving slices as is, but for use in other dishes, like we will see in the dish we have prepared, we have used different types of cuts depending on what it is used for.

As far as pairings with Serrano ham, there are several products I would pair it with - products which are very important in our dishes, as we will see.

Any Andalusian DO extra virgin olive oil, such as Baena or others, depending on the characteristics of the dish and the type of olive want for our oil.

I also enjoy a pairing with wines from Jerez. Wines from Jerez are magnificent, whether we are talking about fino (extra-dry Sherry), manzanilla, palo cortado, or oloroso - all of these types of Sherry are wonderful.

In pairing Serrano ham with Sherry, the amount of salinity, acidity and flavor combine many of the fat and salt characteristics from cured ham. And for preparing dishes, Serrano ham can go well with traditionally paired elements such as potato and egg, or even with sweet foods, perhaps less common but which provide a nice sweet and savory combination, such as dried apricots, prunes, raisins and so on.

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