By Chef Todd

Why I Won’t Be Cooking Ham Again

I won’t be cooking ham ever again since my trip to Spain. I’ve come here to discover new food ideas and have learned the difference between “ham” and the artisan product they make here.

When there’s ham in my kitchen, it doesn’t mean I’m cracking jokes for the camera during a cooking demonstration. I’ve had plenty of people tell me that I’M the ham in the kitchen.

When I’m cooking ham, it’s usually the water-added, brined and salted, bland pork product that is found everywhere in North America. It all tastes the same, there’s no qualifier between different brands or processes. Here in the US, ham is ham.

Most often when I cook with a pork product, it’s bacon. Americans are crazy about the cured meat and I understand why. It’s crispy, it’s crunchy, it’s fatty and smoky. These are the flavors that land on your tongue and light up your brain.

But, bacon has been stripped of most of its flavor also. Bacon is bacon in the U.S., the only difference between brands is the price, not the quality or the WAY it was made.

That’s why I won’t ever be cooking ham again. I’ll be using Jamon from now on.

Spanish jamon is an artisan product that is produced and sold like wine is in France. Jamon in Spain is so much more than just “ham”. Each pig is treated differently, fed different diets, cured and aged in a specific way to give a distinct flavor and texture to each and every piece.

Jamon is not mass-produced like ham is. Jamon comes with the care and cultivation of a unique product which yields the flavor and texture that is characteristic of something produced for quality, not just quantity of output. Cooking with jamon is a greater art than cooking ham.

My new love of Jamon and all the cooking ideas it’s inspired was born out of my discussion with Mark at The Jamon Experience in Barcelona. Mark is a jamon expert who amazed me with the process, care and results involved in producing this signature Spanish food item.

Mark explains that there are three things that dictate the quality of jamon:

  • The breed of the pig
  • What it eats
  • How it is cured

 

Once you discover the difference between cooking ham and cooking WITH jamon, you’ll never go back to the pig-in-a-can ham again. Jamon is the perfect type of ingredient to add a new outlook on my cooking at home. It’s a better, more flavorful replacement for something I’ve been cooking already, and that’s how I refresh my cooking at home.

When you are confident in HOW to cook, the repeatable and reliable cooking METHODS, then the opportunity to add endless variety to your meals comes with discovering new ingredients to apply those same cooking skills to.

You can join me to stop cooking ham and start cooking with a better product like Jamon, and the other Global Food Finds from my trip when you join me for my FREE online webinar workshop, "International Food Finds: Discovering Global Inspirations for New and Exciting Meals at Home.

Hold your spot in the FREE webinar by clicking HERE.

There are more Cooking Ideas From Spain for you to see in the previous blog post.