Always with a knife, and in very thin slices

A ritual which enriches the acorn-fed Iberian ham

Tasting a Marcial Iberian ham is an experience to be enjoyed with the five senses and one which begins the moment the master carver brings out his tools.

Most of us cannot match the skills of a professional ham carver. However, following a series of basic tips and the steps we propose in the following video will help us to enjoy this gastronomic treasure to the full.


The knives
Three knives and a sharpener are the fundamental tools. The first knife is a sturdy one, with a wide blade, for preparing and cleaning the ham. The second knife is longer, with a narrow, flexible blade for carving the slices: this is the classic ham-carving knife. The third one is short and sturdy (dagger type) for when it comes to cutting around the hip bone. Finally, a sharpener is important to keep the cutting edge of the blade sharp.

The slices
These should be small and as thin as possible, so that the intramuscular fat melts on the palate and makes them more succulent. The cut must be uniform, from the hoof towards the hip, and always parallel to the bone. The cutting direction must be uniform, ensuring that the blade of the knife points away from us.

Irrespective of the time taken to eat it, the ham must always have a clean and well-defined edge, thus avoiding stale flavours and unnecessary skin. When a cutting session is finished, the area must be protected with the excess white fat and covered with cling film. This ensures that the surface fat always stays fresh.

The ideal temperature for cutting and tasting Iberian ham is between 18 and 24 degrees centigrade. Keeping it in the fridge or eating it cold is a mistake, as this alters its flavour and organoleptic qualities.