Ham

Ham, jamón, can mean two very different preparations. The most typical Spanish ham, often called jamón serrano,  or mountain ham, as it is most typically cured in cold mountain regions, is salt-cured and aged from seven month to several years. It is thinly sliced and served raw as an aperitif. The colour is deep red to scarlet and the texture is chewy and more or less dry, depending on age. Some of these hams also carry the name of the origin. Particularly appreciated are those made from the black Iberian pig, cerdo ibérico. These will be considerably more expensive than ordinary jamón serrano. If, instead of the hind leg or ham, the front leg, hand or shoulder of the pig is cured, it is called paletilla, paleta, or lacón. These pieces are cheaper than ham, are coarser in texture and contain more bone.

In addition to salt-cured, air-dried jamón serrano, there are several types and qualities of cooked ham, jamón cocido, and hand or shoulder, paleta cocida. The colour of the label indicates quality, with red indicating extra, green primera, yellow segunda and white tercera. With ham and shoulder, the label usually indicates fiambre de jamón, pressed ham, which can contain fillers and thickeners. Magro de cerdo cocido is similar to ham, but made of a piece of undefined cut. Fiambro de lomo is the pork loin, salted, seasoned and cooked. Any of these pieces can be smoked, ahumado, for flavour.

Cured meats

Spanish sausages, embutidos, come in many shapes, sizes and colours. Probably the best known is the chorizo, a semi-hard sausage of pork and pork fat tinctured with paprika. More or less garlic, black pepper and chili pepper flavour the mixture. Morcilla is black pudding or blood sausage. Its confection varies, but may contain rice, pine-nuts, cloves, anise and cinnamon. Butifarra comes in two different flavours. The white ones confected of pork are plump links, butifarra negra is black pudding.

Salchichas are fresh pork sausages, usually in short links. Their seasoning varies from quite bland to very spicy. They are not cured, must be refrigerated and cooked before eating. Salchichón is cure sausage, quite hard, the Spanish equivalent of salami. It is usually speckled with peppercorns and may be smoked. Long skinny ones are called longaniza. Lomo embuchado is whole pork loin which has been seasoned and cured in sausage casing. Lomo adobado is loin which has been marinated with garlic, paprika, oregano and vinegar and may also be smoked. It is, however, fresh meat, not cured and must be thoroughly cooked. Any of these items can also be made with meat from the black Iberian pig, cerdo ibérico, especially appreciated for its flavour.