As you may have read in the Accidental Locavore newsletter recently (and if you haven't, sign up here), the recipe for Croque Monsieur was recently used on Gourmet Food Store. That was followed up by a very generous offer to send me some charcuterie to taste and before I knew it, a big box of goodies was on my doorstep. What was in it? Prosciutto di Parma, Jamon Serrano and the famous Jamon Iberico Pata Negra, beef bresaola, along with a Moskow salami and a Rosette de Lyon.
I was particularly excited to taste for the first time the Jamon Iberico. If you're not familiar with it, it's a world-renown ham from Spain, where the black footed pigs are raised on a diet of acorns. It's supposed to give them a unique flavor (hmm, wonder what the pork chops or bacon tastes like). Until recently, the only way to get it here was to smuggle it in, but Gourmet Food Store has it and was kind enough to include it.
A less greedy person would have come up with a couple of recipes using all this great stuff, but I have to confess that while a grilled pizza with arugula and the Prosciutto was on my radar (along with all the ingredients), we just really enjoyed making a gorgeous plate of the charcuterie and matching the meats with some wonderful cheeses and a good rosè.
What I noticed first of all was that the Prosciutto slices were much larger than either of the two Spanish hams. The meat itself was much less marbled, with most of the fat a wide band around the outside. Of the two Spanish hams, the Iberico was notably more marbled and darker than the Serrano.
So how was my first Jamon Ibeirco (top left in the photo)? Incredible! It has a nice chewiness, a little dense, in the way that really good aged hams are. The fat essentially melts in your mouth, leaving a fabulous taste. It would have been a waste to do anything but enjoy it, so we did!
Which is not to say that the Serrano or Prosciutto were anything but great also! My husband kept trying to figure out which was the absolute best combination of ham and cheese, which required multiple tastings on both our parts. Someday, I'll tell you about Frank trying to smuggle in a big haunch of Serrano from a trip to Paris.
One of the joys of charcuterie is that great cured meats can and do come from anywhere. The Rosette de Lyon is a perfect example of how good the French can be at something we don't necessarily associate them with. Chewy, fatty, rich with a good hit of garlic, it's perfect for cutting up and snacking on. And then getting up and cutting some more. And then, trying to type with greasy fingers. You get the picture.
Same for the Moskow salami, which turns out to be a domestic salami, made using a traditional Russian recipe. It seems a little milder than the Rosette, but I might need to have another piece to really make a decision.
One of the best things about the Gourmet Food Store, is that no matter where you are, great food - like the Jamon d'Iberico - can land on your doorstep with the click of a mouse. If for some crazy reason you're not the charcuterie type, there's plenty of other deliciousness to choose from - caviar, cheeses, chocolates, wagyu beef and more. Treat yourself!
A big thank you to Bogdan and the team at Gourmet Food Store for my first Jamon Iberico and all the other goodies!