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How to Carve Iberico Ham like a Master

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How to Carve Iberico Ham like a Master

Have you ever sliced Iberico ham, or Jamón Ibérico, would you know where to start, would you know how carve it correctly, as tradition dictates and what knife to use? 

Bartolomé Piñero, maestro cortador (master ham cutter) explains how:

Slicing Iberico Ham

What Knife should you use to slice Iberico ham? 

According to Bartolomé Piñero, three knives are needed to slice an Iberian ham, and make sure they're sharp:

- A large knife to open and prepare the knuckle

- A small rigid knife to disengage the bone and remove the hard outer skin

- A long and flexible fish knife-like to fit the shape of the ham and slice the petals

HOW TO CUT IBERIAN HAM?

"The first thing to know is that every maestro cortador has his technique," begins Bartolomé Piñero, who reveals his vision of how it's done. (Here's Oscar Gaitan, showing how he slices his leg of ham.)

"First, there are two types of fat: the one that separates the muscles and the one that infiltrates the muscles." We must first remove the superficial fat to access the flesh of the ham. Then you have to count two fingers from the opening of the leg, that is to say the beginning of the knuckle, before cutting the ham in bevels. Once the leg is clean and the top is flat, slice the meat in 'petals'.

"A perfect Iberian ham "petal" is about 4x4 centimeters long and must be so thin that you can almost see through it," explains the masetro cortador. "The most important thing is to keep the handle of the knife as close to the ham as possible to better control the cut."

"I always start with the masa, which is the top of the ham, and once you get to the femur bone, you turn the leg," says the master cutter.

Bartolomé Piñero also tells us to always keep the ham flat on the cut top. "It's a question of aesthetics but also of economy because one controls the yield better."

If you don't get it right the first time, don't panic! According to Bartolomé Piñero, it takes at least eighteen months to become a good maestro cortador!

Meet Florencio Sanchidrián, he's had over 30 years of experience and is paid 4,000 USD to slice Iberica ham.

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