4 February 2010

5J, Cinco Jotas, Jabugo

"Cinco Jotas" or the 5J Iberico ham is respected worldwide as one of the finest artisan Spanish hams money can buy. A rare ham produced in limited numbers which command a high price.

Sanchez Romero Carvajal has been producing premium grade iberian hams for generations, way back since 1879 so if any company knows the secrets to artisan ham production it is them.

So what makes the 5J ham so different? The big difference is that Sanchez Romero Carvajal use only 100% Iberian pigs to produce this supreme ham. Nothing out of the ordinary there then, well, actualy yes... 100% Iberian pigs are very rare, native to the Iberian peninsular in South West Spain the hog is still only available in limited numbers ~ compare this to other iberian hams where the pigs (specified by the authourities) have to be no less than 75% iberico and you soon realise that a 5J ham is the purest iberian ham available to man.

The town of Jabugo where these hams are produced had been put on the map due to the quality of the "Cinco Jotas Jamones" There are also some very happy and content pigs roaming the meadows in the area, known as "dehesas" these meadows boast the oak trees ("Holm" oak being the largest) from which drop the acorns (bellotas) that make up the main part of the pigs diet.

Flavour is sublime, texture equally so and a nutty aroma, marbled with fat these hams are exquisite in every sense of the word. Each leg is carefully tended to by the meastro secadero (ham expert) during its 3 years of curing, such are the strict controls and quality standards for the 5J, Sanchez Romero Carvajal hams are envied as some of the very finest available.

The 5J ham is slender in shape, cut in a "V" and has the black hoof or "pata negra". Ham once cut into is a deep rose red with fat boasting a pale yellow tint. Unique aroma and very pleasant bouquet. Perfect accompaniments to this ham would be equally high standards of cheese and wine, a denominacion de origen cheese and a 1996 Rioja or 1999 Ribera del Duero will always compliment well as will, quite plainly a good bread with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

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