Are you a fan of Cured Meats ?
I surely am ! I absolutely love the intense flavour of cured meats like Chorizo and Jamon ( -salt cured Ham- pronounced as ‘Hah-mon’)
Just a tiny bit goes a long way in jazzing up your meal instantly.
For those who are new to the technique and art of Curing meats, here’s a little info about the process of curing –
To put it very simply, ‘Curing’ is a technique of flavouring & preserving foods, such as meats, fish, vegetables & fruits.
The aim of curing is to draw out moisture from the food by adding Salt, Sugar, Seasoning and such other natural preservatives, to increase the shelf life of the food, and store it year round, for consumption when certain fish/fresh produce or not available or in season.
Dehydration is the earliest form of food curing, which also includes processes like spicing, pickling, cooking, or smoking.
Curing decreases / completely draws out the water content from foods, thus making it inhospitable for the growth of microbes that cause food spoilage.
On my recent visit to Spain, I got a chance to sample various types of cured meats, be it in their original form as a quick nibble between meals, or in Sandwiches, Rice dishes, as a flavour enhancer in Salads, and very prominently as Tapas and on Cheese platters, served with Drinks.
There are literally thousands of types of cured meats, all over the world.
Some are made using a single meat such as Pork, some with a combination of 2-3 different meats (eg- pork, beef, deer, wild boar etc) or even offal.
Some sausages also use a combination of spices like Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Pepper, Coriander etc, if the meat is to ‘Gamey’.
The one that I particularly liked, & bought in huge quantities to take back home, was the ‘Iberico Salchichon’.
(Iberian/) Iberico Salchichon/Sausages are made from the famed Black Hoofed Iberico (Iberian) Pigs, native to Spain.
They roam free, and feed on leaves and acorns. Extremely flavourful (& needless to say, quite expensive !) these are quite the delicacy in Spain.
The pork is dark red and marbled with delicate fat, creating an intense flavour and melt in the mouth texture.
Unlike Spanish Chorizo, which is infused with a lot of garlic, smoked paprika & other spices, (which btw, is also Truly delicious! ) this Salchichon uses only Salt & Pepper (sometimes Oregano) for curing. With a simple curing solution of Salt & Pepper, these sausages are filled in natural casing (read- beef/pig intestines) & are hung to cure in the cool mountain air for several weeks/months.
Sliced thinly, this delicious treat can be served with a crisp white wine, some cheese & crusty sourdough bread.
Makes for a perfect gift for someone who loves cured meats & wines, & even to bring back home, and stash it for the days when you want to sit back and enjoy these, while reminiscing about your beautiful Spanish vacation. 😊