28 November 2012

Spanish Ham Carving Knives

Carving Spanish ham takes practice, in Spain you can attend numerous ham carving events, exhibitions and even festivals celebrating the country’s most famous and loved export. The experts make ham carving look very easy but for the Spanish ham enthusiast or lucky recipient having been given a full leg Serrano or Iberico ham as a gift the thought of ‘opening’ the ham can be quite daunting.

spanish ham knife set
A Spanish ham is without doubt a gourmet purchase and although storage and carving may appear quite technical upon reading or watching the many instructions or videos available on the internet today it pays to remember that simple works and nothing needs to be complicated. Storing a Spanish ham whether it be Serrano or Iberico is an easy process and remains much the same across the board, carving on the other hand is the more intricate side of enjoying a Spanish ham and although we won’t go into the details here we will discuss how good equipment plays a vital role in the enjoyment of your Spanish ham.

The most essential aspect of ham carving is the ham knife itself, couple this with a good ham stand (or ham clamp as they are sometimes referred to) and you have a basic setup for ham carving. The type of knife you might require will essentially all depend on how often you purchase Spanish hams, this is where the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ becomes very true indeed. There are distinct advantages in ham knives from the budget knife to the top of the range knives for which there is a significant price difference. In order to distinguish which may be better for your own personal purchase or indeed if the ham is to be a gift there is one simple thing to consider:

How often will the knife be used?
This goes hand in hand with how many hams you intend to enjoy, perhaps over a year. For a one time purchase or as a gift to someone else then a budget knife can be taken to task quite easily. However for a knife that will be in regular use then something of higher quality will be more suitable. For the latter, sharpening also comes into play, a good knife needs a good sharpener or steel as the key to successful ham carving is keeping sharp both for safety and good results.

There are many knife manufacturers to choose from but when it comes to ham carving knives you would expect that the Spanish excel and this is indeed very true. On this website you will find ham carving knives from ARCOS, a company that has been producing quality knives since 1875. ARCOS also manufacture accessories such as ‘chaira’s’ (hand held sharpening steels) as well as other professional knife sharpening equipment – each piece guaranteed for 10 years.

Cortar JamonIntroducing - Carving Sets
Orce Serrano Hams has been working closely with ARCOS since 2005 and also acclaimed author and photographer Pilar Esteban-Ordorica who after attending a ham carving course held by José Ángel Muñoz decided to write a stunning photographic step by step book on the ‘art of slicing Spanish ham’. Pilar says:

 “For me, eating good ham was already like taste therapy. But the experience of seeing myself for the first time, knife in hand, in front of a whole Serrano ham, about to take the slicing exam, (as well as some other curiosities that happened along the way that weekend), brought me to the conclusion that an instruction book on slicing was needed in today's market and in the daily lives of ham lovers like myself”.

Pairing Pilar’s book with some of the most well respected carving knives produced in Spain seemed like the obvious thing to do so we are excited to announce a new range of ham carving sets incorporating ham carving knives, sharpening equipment, serving utensils and of course essential reading. Suitable for all levels, from Spanish ham beginners to seasoned professionals the new range of ham carving sets is available to all whether you are looking to progress up the range or simply start with the basics and a ‘Ham Care Kit’

Your basic Ham Care Kit has now been improved with an upgraded knife and serving board, containing all the essentials to keep your ham fresh this kit also contains extra virgin olive oil to rub over the exposed meat thus keeping it moist and also a breathable muslin sock to cover and protect your ham. Carving sets come in no less than six different styles from ARCOS including their ‘Clasica, Riviera, Terranova, Saeta, Kyoto and Titanio’ designs. You can also discover stylish knife block sets (each incorporating a ham carving knife) which will compliment any kitchen. The majority of these new Sets include the book ‘Slicing Spanish Ham’ or ‘Cortar Jamon’ should you or the recipient prefer the Spanish version.

This detailed video (in Spanish) on Spanish ham carving from ARCOS offers close up filming of professional ham carver Javier Torres slicing a full Iberico ham from start to finish, the knives he is using are from the ARCOS ‘Kyoto’ range. Although this video details a full ham being carved all at once it does offer an accurate guideline of how carving can be performed with practice and acquired skill, even down to cutting ‘tacos’ (small pieces).

Carving sets from Orce Serrano Hams come in either five or six piece sets, each containing a professional ham carving knife, other selected knives, sharpeners and a copy of the book ‘Slicing Spanish Ham’ (see below)

Pilar’s ‘The Art of Slicing Spanish Ham’ contains no less than 363 detailed photographs within 25 easy to learn lessons on how to successfully slice and carve your Spanish ham. This book, unlike others also covers carving Serrano ham so is not just targeted at top of the range Iberico hams. With this in mind your ham carving ‘bible’ will be become an essential accessory from beginners level ham carving through to professional level and beyond, a book that has something for Spanish ham enthusiasts of all levels both in Spain and abroad.

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