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Cooking with Hannibal: Buffet Froid

Hannibal slices some Jamon Iberico

Hannibal slices some Jamon Iberico

The sight of Hannibal handling a very sharp knife makes me a little nervous. However, in this episode he was just using it to slice some Spanish ham – Jamon Iberico. Whew. That’s a relief.

Slicing Jamon Iberico

Slicing Jamon Iberico

As you can see up-close, Jamon Iberico is superfatty. It’s a delicious cured pork product that is sort of like a firmer, less sweet prosciutto. And Spanish. In case you have a gazillion dollars to drop on an entire jamon iberico (if you do, invite me over, pretty please?), here are a few tips on how to carve it, as an excerpt, with some edits from a funny article in The Guardian on How to Be a Jamon Carver.


1. Fix ham to the carving stand, with the hoof facing away from you.

2. Start by carving the babilla. Make a cut around the hoof near the top joint of the foreleg. Remove rind on one side. Remove excess fat and keep it for wrapping the ham when finished.

The babilla is the rump end of the ham, where the meat contains the most fat. La babilla is the part delimited between the femur bone and the coxal, and contains less meat than the part of the maza, which is the thicker, rump half of the ham, where the meat is most lean. It is recommended to start cutting ham in this part in order to preserve and to take advantage of the ham piece.

3. Use a long carving knife to make thin slices. The cut must be straight and parallel to the bone. Carve from punta to hoof. The carved area must be clear of skin and yellow layers of fat.

The punta is the hip, or the opposite part of the hoof. This part has a lot of fat and therefore is one of the more tasty parts of the ham.

4. When near the hip bone, cut around it with a preparation knife. Turn ham over to cut the maza. Keep applying the same technique, including the cut around the hip bone in the punta.

5. When there are no more big slices left, trim the fat around the hip and start slicing this part. Trim the rind around the first cut. Below, there is a darker meat, which has a rich flavour.

6. Serve as soon as possible, at room temperature. A good tip to help enjoy all the flavour from the ham is to place the slices on a warm plate.


Slices of Jamon Iberico. Image from

Slices of Jamon Iberico. Image from

For us mere mortals, you can buy the stuff sliced to order at online stores like LaTienda or in person at stores like Despaña in New York.

There is really no need for a recipe here. Toast some baguette slices. Add slices of jamon. Swoon at the decadence. Repeat until all the jamon is gone. Then cry.


About francoiseeats

I'm currently working as a freelance travel and food writer, and photographer. I spent two years at, the culinary on-line magazine for the industry insider. My articles have been published in New York, NY and Richmond, VA. After graduating from Columbia University and recovering from the tragedy of not being able to read Camus books for a living, I attended The Culinary Institute of America, where my scone consumption rose drastically. Fluent in French and Italian, I've worked in some of New York's top restaurants and covered food-related stories in a number of publications, from The Richmond Times-Dispatch to Time Out New York.

One response »

  1. Interesting post Francoise, and I love Jamon, Spanish style.


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