Carving A Spanish Ham
Properly carving a Spanish ham requires two essential pieces of equipment - the ham knife and the jamonera, or ham stand. Be sure that the long flexible blade of the knife is very sharp in order to cut the ham slices as thin as possible. The ham stand is designed specifically for the purpose of holding the ham securely to optimize the carving process.
Place the ham on the jamonera, and tighten any existing clamps on the stand. After doing so, the ham should be firmly secure and ready for carving.
To begin, make a vertical cut below the hoof, approximately 6 to 8 inches. A clean edge will make your carving go much smoother. Now make a long cut on the top of the ham to remove some of the fat and rind and simultaneously expose the edible part of the ham. Do not throw this top cut away, it will help protect the ham later on when for storing.
The next step makes carving the ham easier. Cut away the rind around the circumference of the exposed area. The cut should be almost vertical and about an inch deep to remove some of the rind. Don’t cut away too much of the fat or you lose some of the flavor as well.
Okay, now you’re ready to carve. You should be staring at a raised area of edible ham ready to cut. Your goal is to produce paper thin slices which should be almost transparent. If your knife is sufficiently sharp, your cuts should be long, flat and smooth.
When you reach the hip bone, simply cut vertically along the bone to allow additional slices of jamon. The area around the ham’s bottom or punta, is harder to cut and will produce smaller and thicker slices. Once the one side of the jamon is finished, you can turn it over and repeat the process. When there is no ham left to slice, you can saw the bone down into pieces and use it as stock or for stews and soups.
Now that you're done with the carving process, it's time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Place the jamon slices on a serving plate or wooden board and give them time to rest approximately before serving, thirty minutes if possible. It will allow the jamon's flavor to actually intensify. Serve the jamon as a tapa, along with some manchego cheese, or in a bocadillo de jamon or best yet all by itself. Buen Provecho!