Updated: Jul 18, 2022
Nothing else captures the essence of Spanish gastronomy as its vast and diverse range of cold cuts. Spain is known as the biggest producer of ham in the world, where, curing, a process of food preservation and flavouring by adding salt to the meat to draw the moisture is a centuries-old tradition. Read on to learn about the most popular types of Spanish cold cuts and get to know the best way to enjoy these Spanish delights.
Types of Different Spanish Cold Cuts
Jamon Iberico de Bellota
This type of Spanish ham is the rarest and the most extraordinary among varieties of Iberian ham, which is made from the meat of 100% pure breed of Black Iberian pigs, also known as Pata Negra pigs. This variety of Iberian ham is produced with meat coming from acorn-fed Iberian pigs that have been roaming freely across oak pastures and feeding on an acorn-based diet. To meet the specific standards of bellota ham production and achieve the most admired Pata Negra status, the status of the highest-quality Iberian ham, the pigs need to be reared in specified places of origin.
Chorizo is Spain’s most famous sausage, which is a sausage made from minced pork mixed with a generous amount of either sweet or spicy paprika, pimenton. The interesting feature of chorizo sausages is that they vary tremendously from region to region and kitchen to kitchen. The major ingredients, pork and paprika, remain the same, while everything else including sausage length, width, density, curing time, and other optional ingredients can vary. Chorizo sausage is often paired with cheese, or fried in olive oil, and served with toasted breadsticks.
This type of Spanish ham is bright pink to purple coloured ham that is produced using a traditional method of curing that dates back to Roman times. The process of making Jamon Serrano can be divided into four stages, salting, washing, post-salting, and drying. This Spanish ham can be cured without skin for more than a year that results in a very powerful aroma and delicate taste. When Serrano ham is cut, it has a shiny appearance. Since not much salt is used in curing this ham, it has a nutty-sweet flavour that blends well with slightly salty notes.
Iberico Lomo is one of the finest forms of Spanish cold cuts, which is made from pork tenderloin that has been dry-cured with paprika for more than two months. “Lomo” is the Spanish word for "loin" which is a large, long muscle joined to the spine. This Spanish ham can be described as meaty, lean, and elegantly marbled. Iberico Lomo is often served with olive oil or eaten with olive or piquillo pepper.
How to Serve and Enjoy Spanish Cold Cuts
The best way to enjoy your Spanish cold cuts is by placing slices of ham on a wooden board right out of the packets they were sold in, whereas thin sausages can be served with a sharp knife on the side for people to cut the pieces they like, thin or thick. Chorizo can be cooked with onions and white wine to add some extra flavour. For an authentic experience of eating chorizo, you can also fry the chorizo in a terracotta bowl as local Spanish people do.
All the Spanish cold cuts usually are served with plain toasted bread or Catalan tomato bread covered, and a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil. Spanish cold cuts are also perfectly savoured without the tomato or the olive oil on their own or with plain breadsticks. To enjoy a simple dinner, add some cheese, olives, and a bottle of red wine to the meat.
To enjoy the true taste of Spain, you don't necessarily have to go to Spain! To bring an authentic taste of Spain to your dinner table and enjoy a long-lasting gourmet experience, explore our selection of Spanish Cold Cuts from the best artisanal producers of Spanish ham!