To properly cut a smoked ham it is vital to make the most of the quality of its texture, the complexity of its flavour and the range of its aromas. This is an art of experts, but if a set of good practices is taken into consideration, it may be within the reach of amateur gourmets. The following should be kept in mind:
How to prepare:
Place the meat to be cut correctly in the brace. This means that it must be firmly secured and in a comfortable position for the cutter.
A knife with a long narrow flexible blade should be used for the cutting. For the first and auxiliary cuts another type of knife is used, this time with a shorter stiff blade.
Where to star:
The skin and part of the yellow rind formed during the natural drying and maturing processes should be removed from the ham. Start with a circular cut perpendicular to the foot and the height of the hock (fig.1) and subsequently make tangential cuts on both sides (fig.2).
Even better when properly cut
If the smoked ham will be eaten quickly, or a more flamboyant style of cutting is desired, one should begin with the main part of the meat A which is juicier and fattier (it corresponds to the position with the hoof facing upwards). For slower consumption it is recommended to start with the stifle area B, so that the meat will not end up being too dry.
They should always be parallel to each other, following the lines shown in the figure, leaving always a flat surface, with no streaks.
The slices must be very thin, almost transparent and follow the length of meat, cut with a slow back and forth movement and should not be wider than 6 or 7 cm.
The cut of this main part A needs auxiliary cutting 1 and 2, the first one will be to finish off the piece towards the foreleg and the second one, with the auxiliary knife, serves to separate it from the thigh bone.
The meat close to the bones that cannot be cut into slices, but rather in irregular stripes and pieces is an excellent complement to be consumed in small cubes and slices.
The bones cut into pieces of 10 to 12 centimetres with a saw are equally used in the preparation of exquisite and aromatic consommés.
© 2015 Salsicharia Limiana, Lda.
To guarantee all its qualities, the ham should be cut as it is consumed not to lose its properties.
The best way to store it is to cover the cutting surface with its own fat, using the rind removed at the beginning, to prevent it from drying and losing flavour; afterwards it should be covered, preferably, with a cotton cloth, which allows the meat to breath. It should be stored in a dry, well ventilated and preferably dark place.
NOTE: The smoked ham must be consumed at room temperature to enjoy all its sensorial nuances. If the ham is cut and stored in the refrigerator it is advisable to take it out at least one hour before for the ham to regain the ideal temperature for tasting.
In short, for a good cutting: good utensils, a bit of organization, skills and art, and above all a good ham.