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How to choose a good raw ham in store?

To create a beautiful charcuterie board or simply in sandwiches, here is how to recognize a good raw ham in the store.

Between the different types of raw ham, there is enough to lose your mind. Which mention should you rely on when choosing it? Does good charcuterie necessarily cost a lot?
Whether you buy it in a supermarket, in a delicatessen or a delicatessen, here’s how to recognize an exceptional raw ham.

AOP or IGP products: always preferred

When it comes to cold meats or cheeses, we have no problem trusting the labels. Products benefiting from a protected designation or geographical indication have strict specifications specifying the origin and breeding conditions of the pigs, the maturation processes, etc.

The different raw hams

Serrano ham
Coming straight from Spain, this ham from white mountain pigs offers good value for money. Note, however, that refining can affect the cost of the product.
In the mouth, it is a little dry and salty and its color tends towards pink.

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Iberian ham
One of the most expensive hams, count at least €50 per kilo, but its taste is unique. It is also made in Spain, from black Iberian pig breeds mainly fed on acorns. Its maturation period varies between 24 to 48 months to give its aromas time to shine.

When it comes to tasting, we favor simplicity so as not to lose any flavor. Chiffoned, without any other ingredients, that’s where it’s best.

Parma ham
This ham from Northern Italy is exclusively made in the city of Parma, in order to respect the AOP (or DOP in Italian) criteria. Whole Parma hams can be recognized by an iron mark in the shape of a five-pointed ducal crown in which “Parma” is written.

For the record, know that pigs are exclusively fed cereals and parmesan whey.

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Bayonne ham
We have to admit it to you, Bayonne ham does not come from Bayonne! In fact, it is made in Béarn, with local pigs. We appreciate it for its tenderness and its delicate, slightly salty flavor.

Auvergne ham
The IGP of Auvergne ham strictly defines its geographical production area including Cantal, Haute-Loire, Puy-de-Dôme, the southern half of Allier as well as certain communes of Lot and Corrèze.
It is rubbed with garlic before maturing for a minimum of 8 months.

Vendée ham
This specialty obtained the IGP label in 2014. Its particularities? It has a relatively short maturation time compared to others, around 3 months and is rubbed with brandy, salt and herbs before being dried and refined.

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Country ham
This is not a label, so it says nothing about the quality of the ham. It is therefore better to trust the other information on the packaging (origin, refining, presence of nitrites, etc.).
Country ham is often sold less expensively than other raw hams and is therefore perfect for cooking.

Trust your senses

Whatever its origin, a good raw ham has a color ranging from pink to dark red, and white fat.
When it smells, it should give off aromas of cured meat, especially not raw meat, as this would mean that it lacks maturation.

How to enjoy raw ham?

A common mistake we make with ham is removing the fat. However, this part contains some of the flavors of the charcuterie. In addition, it is not a bad fat since it contains omega 3 and omega 6.

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Of course, cured ham is mainly eaten raw; cooking it tends to cause it to lose a large part of its aromas and dry out the meat. Instead, add it at the very end of a recipe, or use it in no-cook dishes like mixed salads or sandwiches.

The simplest way to enjoy it is still to offer it on a charcuterie platter. Prepare the latter slightly in advance, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature.
This will help the flavors of the charcuterie develop.

To read :

Camille Ordonneau

Editor

For me, cooking is a passion that is passed down from generation to generation. Arrancini, lasagna, fish couscous and cannoli are part of my family culinary heritage. Specialist in “the…

William

I'm William from America, I'm a food lover, often discovering and making new recipes. I started my blog to share my love for food with others. My blog is filled with delicious recipes, cooking tips, and reviews about restaurants and products. I'm also an advocate for healthy eating and strive to create recipes that are easy to make and use fresh ingredients. Many of my recipes contain vegetables or grains as the main ingredients, with a few indulgences thrown in for good measure. I often experiment with new ingredients, adding international flavors and finding ways to make dishes healthier without compromising on flavour. I'm passionate about creating simple yet delicious recipes that are fun to make and can easily be replicated at home. I also love sharing my experiences eating out with others so they can get the best out of their dining experiences. In addition to cooking and writing, I'm also an avid traveler, often visiting new places to discover local delicacies and explore different flavors. I'm always looking for a new challenge – whether it's trying an exotic food or creating a new recipe using unusual ingredients. My blog is a reflection of my passion for food and I'm always looking for new ways to share it with the world. Join me on my culinary journey and let's explore delicious foods together!

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