When buying Iberian ham to be consumed at home, whether it is iberico de cebo ham or According to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy, th... ham, we always ask ourselves how to cut open a ham, because depending on the occasion we have to place the piece in the ham holder in one way or another and we do not want to make a mistake. If you have already bought your Iberian ham and are ready to sink your teeth into it, here is a practical guide to get started!
There is no single correct solution when it comes to starting the ham and to understand this, you first have to understand the anatomy of the ham legs. Each ham leg has three zones: “la babilla” (the Knuckle), “la maza” (the cushion) and the contramaza (the fore cushion).
- Maza: is the widest part, where the leg has more meat, and its taste is very tender. The slices obtained from this area are very juicy.
- Contramaza: it is the part located just below the maza and its taste is very similar.
- Babilla: this is the area just opposite the the Maza and, as the meat is closer to the bone, it will be cured earlier because the bone helps to speed up this process. Its taste is very intense and the colour of each slice will be darker. It has less fat.
How to cut open a ham if we are going to eat it quickly
Now that we know the areas of the ham and that we know that the taste of each one of them is different we will see how to start it. The meat of the “maza” is juicier and is therefore usually eaten first.
In the ham shops, bars and restaurants, where the authentic ham slicing experts are constantly cutting the pieces, they begin to cut ham in this area to serve these slices first. Since we’re going to finish quickly, when the time comes to turn the piece around, the “babilla” will still be good.
If you have bought an Iberian ham for a special occasion and you are going to meet many people, as it happens at Christmas or on some anniversaries, you can also start in this area for the same reason. Your piece is going to be delicious and if you neglect it for a minute, you won’t find anything left even in the dish!
As soon as you can’t get any more meat out of the “maza” and “contramaza”, turn it over and finish off the “babilla”. If you want to make sure that there is absolutely no meat left, bring it to any of the Enrique Tomás stores. We’ll finish slicing it and vacuum-pack everything we’ve cut. It’s okay if you haven’t bought it in one of our stores, we’ll make it for you anyway! In the image you will see these parts indicated on a ham shoulder, but the same applies to the ham.
What if it’s gonna take a while to eat it?
Now imagine that we are facing the opposite case. At home you like Bellota ham very much, you are an average family made up of two parents and two boys or girls and you want to buy a treat for everyone. All right, you pick your piece and you take it home.
But, how do you put it in the ham holder? As we have mentioned previously, the closer the meat is to the bone the sooner it will get dry and as the “babilla” is more cured than the “maza”, it is best to start here to prevent it from being gone off when we go to slice it.
Place your ham leg in the ham holder with the hoof down, slice the “babilla” and, as soon as you finish, turn it over to eat the “maza”. As this area is more tender, it will take longer to get rancid so you may take a little longer to eat it because it will still be good when you get there.
So how do you cut open a ham? Well, it depends on how long you think it’s gonna last. If you are many at home and it is going to disappear in the blink of an eye, you can start with the “maza”, but if you are few, cut open the “babilla” and it will not be bad when you go to eat it. You’ll see how good these tips are for you!