TOP 5 TIPS FOR HAND-SLICING JAMON
The ability to hand-slice a ham is not only a great life skill, but getting started is a lot easier than many think. Follow our 12-page cutting guide, which walks you through the basics and with a little practice (and some patience), this should set you well on your way to becoming a Maestro Cortador!
In the meantime, here are the 5 things you really should know.
1. YOU WILL NEED A STAND
If you have purchased a whole leg of ham, you will need a sturdy holder to safely and effectively slice the ham. Buying a stand is often overlooked as mere decoration but the reality is that without a sturdy holder, you simply cannot slice a ham. Don’t worry if you have just realised this and forgot to order one. We have 3 different Holder Sets available and they also include a knife (which is also a necessity - see below)
2. YOU WILL NEED A SPECIAL KNIFE
A large kitchen knife may be handy for removing the hard yellow rind from a ham but is next to useless for cutting thin slices. Infact, if you try to slice a ham with a kitchen knife, you will end up with a leg that looks like it was attacked with a chainsaw. You really need to invest in a long, flexible ham knife (called a Cuchillo) which is specially made for this one purpose. The best Cuchillo knives are hollow edged (they have grooves cut along the blade to reduce friction) and produce thin, even slices.
3. REMOVE THE RIND
Before you slice a ham, you must remove the first remove the hard yellow rind and fats. This is bitter and can contaminate the flavour of the exposed meat. Don’t remove all the rind in one go - just remove this from the section you intend to eat that day. TOP TIP: Once you reach the layer of white fat, this should be kept and used to cover the exposed meat during storage.
4. KEEP THE CUTTING LINE STRAIGHT
The give-away sign of a novice Cortador is that there is a U-shape cut through the middle of the leg. When slicing, you should maintain a straight cutting line which is parallel to the axis of the ham. Not only will this allow you to create uniform slices, but it also ensures you get the right proportion of meat and fats.
5. SLICES SHOULD BE AS THIN AS POSSIBLE
When slicing ham, it is important that each slice is as thin as possible. You should be able to see the cutting edge of the blade through the meat as you slice - with each slice being 3-4 cm wide. It should contain just enough meat for one bite and have a small edging of fat to supplement the flavour. Not only will this make you look really professional, but your guests will appreciate each delicate, tasty bite. There is nothing worse than forcing your guests to chew through big chunks of meat (even if it is delicious).