Serrano ham is a raw-dried pork leg that originates from Spain. It has a unique flavor and delicate texture.
If you want to get the most out of your serving of Serrano, you’ll need to pay attention to the presentation. How gorgeous this thinly sliced ham is on the serving plate may not seem important, but it’s the main feature of tasting jamon.
While it can be eaten on its own, it can also be served with other things. Fruits such as pears or melon, or a vegetable like asparagus. Goat or blue cheese and scrambled eggs pair with Serrano nicely as well.
These aren’t the only options however, you have a lot to consider when pairing ham.
Difference Between Serrano and Iberico?
Iberico and Serrano differ in quite a few ways, from the method and length of preparation to the breed of pigs.
The first difference between Serrano and Iberico is the breed of pig.
Serrano comes from the Landrace or Duroc pigs. Iberico comes from Black Iberian pigs.
Serrano pigs are typically fed dry feed.
Iberico pigs are free-range and graze in the wild, and are fed a hearty amount of acorns.
The pigs themselves look different to one another, but so does the meat.
Serrano is made from white pigs, and the meat tends to be lighter and pinker in color. It has very little to no fat.
Iberico is made from black pigs and the meat is usually purplish red, but can be in a range from purplish red to very pale shades of red. It has fat marbling, which is what gives it its unique flavor.
Iberico usually has less salt, but way more fat than Serrano. The fat gives Iberico flavor, aroma, and a more tender texture.
Serrano’s flavor is sharper, a rich salty-sweet taste with an intense aroma.
How to Eat Serrano Ham?
There are a lot of ways you can eat Serrano ham.
It can be eaten on its own, for example in thin slices or as cubes. It can also be added to a snack or cheese board, served on crackers with fruit slices like pears, or with cheese. Goat cheese or blue cheese tends to do really well with Serrano.
If you’re feeling more peckish than a quick snack, Serrano can be thickly sliced and served on a sandwich, or made into a hearty breakfast omelet.
What to Serve with Serrano Ham?
Serrano ham is a delicacy. What you serve with it, and how it’s presented, matter a lot more than you’d think at first.
Place your meat in concentric circles, decorating the wooden board with colorful herbs – this creates a gorgeous presentation, adds to the aroma of the Serrano, but doesn’t detract from the aroma or flavor of the ham itself.
As the ham is the main course and the most important flavor, it’s not served with bread. If you absolutely have to have it, small white bread toasts or croutons will do.
It’s commonly believed that sweet flavors – such as wines and fruit – are the perfect compliment to a salty flavor like Serrano ham.
Aged red wines pair the best, a Rioja or dry champagne. It would be a mistake to go with something sickening sweet and fruity like Zinfandel or Riesling.
Ideally you would choose a Spanish or Italian wine, but really the only thing you need to keep in mind is to avoid a sweet beverage. The sweetness will overpower the delicate scent of the pork.
The better choice would be a young wine with a slight fruity aftertaste, or an aged pinot noir wine.
When in doubt, just choose something dry.
There’s not a whole lot to be said about pairing Serrano with beer, as it’s typically wine that’s the alcohol of choice with Serrano. Traditionally, it’s served with a dry red wine.
At the very least, it should be a light beer with a citrus aftertaste.
Most cheese will go well with Serrano, it’s all down to personal preference.
However, blue cheese does tend to pair well with it. Goat or sheep cheese will also work well.
Any soft cheese pairs delightfully with Serrano. Something like a soft feta, or a blue-veined cheese such as Gorgonzola. The key here is soft and crumbly, with a light and mild flavor that enhances and compliments the ham.
Believe it or not, ham pairs well with a sweet fruit – and Serrano is no exception.
You can’t go wrong with melon or pears, especially when paired with a soft cheese and white croutons.
Melon is traditionally served with Serrano in Spain, as it is believed two opposite flavors – salty and sweet – compliment one another perfectly while simultaneously enhancing the flavors of each.
Figs and grapes compliment the rich flavor of the Serrano as well.
There are a lot of options in vegetables that pair well with Serrano ham.
Olives, tomatoes, and cauliflower can be set out on a snack board, along with slices of goat cheese and croutons, to make a wonderful and healthy brunch.
Eggplants, arugula, tomatoes, and lettuce can make an amazing salad when topped with some sliced Serrano.
Zucchini, beans, potatoes, herbs – Serrano can be paired with quite a lot of foods. The key is to find the flavors that compliment the ham, instead of trying to overpower it.
When it’s all said and done, you need only choose the pairings that you like best when serving Serrano. If this is your first time having it, follow the traditional serving options – melon and red wine – and then branch out. Explore your vast sea of options and find the perfect match for you.