The "jamón" (ham) is the result of the dry-curing process in salt of the pig’s back leg.
The "paleta" (ham shoulder) is the result of the dry-curing process in salt of the pig’s front leg. Its flavour is usually more intense than ham's because the meat is nearer to the bone and has less fat. For this reason, the curing time of the ham shoulder is also shorter.
The first step is to get the freshly cut front leg into salt, that is all covered by salt. The “expert” (in Spain we call it “the cook”) makes a “V” cut on the top of the hoof’s rind in order to indicate the maximum fat level allowed. Depending on the location of the “v” cut as well as the permitted fat, the resulting ham will have different flavour nuances and salt amount. There is an exception to this “V” cut: by the ham shoulders of Huelva. In this case, the cut is less deep and more rounded or oval-shaped.
Once the previous action is finished, the front leg will be buried into salt for an average of ten days. Then, according to the type of “ham shoulder” that we want to produce, the hoof’s specific characteristics and the flavour that we want to obtain, the ham shoulder will be hanging in the "secadero", or natural drying area for as long as necessary until it achieves the best quality possible for its consumption.