Jamón Tips and Info

How to Buy the Best Sliced Ibérico Ham in the U.S.

A guide to buying the best sliced Jamón 100% Ibérico de Bellota online.

You may not be ready to ship a full leg of Spanish jamón to the U.S. You want a starter kit, a tapa, if you will. Sliced Jamón Ibérico is a simple and noncommittal way to snack on this cured delicacy stateside. Since its introduction to the U.S. market in 2007, only a few brands have been able to withstand the impossible FDA regulations coupled with already rigid quality standards of sliced Ibérico ham in Spain. Each of us is doing important and difficult work—bringing jamón to North America is an outstanding feat in and of itself.  But there’s so little information available about sliced jamón, so it’s important to do your online research before buying sliced Jamón Ibérico. Ask:

  • Is it 100% Ibérico de Bellota?
  • Was it carved by hand?
  • Is it really hand-carved jamón or is it paleta?
  • How much does shipping cost?
  • What if I don’t love it?
  • What are customers saying about each brand and variety?

Take a look at a few nuances that differentiate one product from another before throwing a pack of sliced Ibérico ham  into your virtual shopping cart. Here’s what we’re talking about:

Hand-carved Jamón Pata Negra has to be 100% Ibérico breed (not crossbred) and fed on acorns.

Is it 100% Ibérico de Bellota?

Spain is internationally known for pig, and most importantly the cured pig. There are a few different varieties like Jamón Serrano, the lowest quality Spanish ham, and Jamón Ibérico. But the product that sets us apart from Italy, France, and other culinary powerhouses is our Jamón 100% Ibérico de Bellota. Pata Negra, another official name given to these cured legs that hang from the ceilings of every other bar in Spain, comes from pure-bred Iberian pigs native to the peninsula. Some varieties of Jamón Ibérico and Serrano come from mixed breeds of pigs, altering the flavor profile and healthy fat content. If the packaging on your sliced jamón doesn’t say 100% ibérico, look elsewhere. 

These 100% black-hoofed Iberian pigs spend their days roaming free in Spanish pastures, grazing on meadow grasses, and snatching up acorns during the fall and early winter. The acorns, bellotas, fatten up these all-day-eaters and give the meat an unmatchable nutty character. This is the “de bellota” tagline you’ll see on the best Spanish hams in the world. 

You may find packaging with pictures of these iconic acorns. Though the graphics are creative, they don’t ensure that the pigs are truly free-range nor de bellota. They may eat acorns at some point in their life, but they’re likely fattening themselves up on farm feed too. An antibiotic and hormone-free care, natural Spanish grasses, and a plethora of acorns from holm oak trees, are the way Iberian pigs have eaten for centuries. These pigs become true jamón—the healthiest and finest cured pork that’s won the hearts of every traveler wandering through the peninsula. Stay true to tradition and quality. Look for 100% Ibérico de Bellota and none other. 

A Jamón 100% Ibérico de Bellota should always be carved by hand


Was it carved by hand?

An exaggerated amount of care and attention goes into raising and curing the iconic Pata Negra. It’s only right to carve the leg with the same delicate care. In Spain, a proper Jamón 100% Ibérico de Bellota is always carved by hand. Artisans dedicate their entire lives to perfecting the art of carving a jamón. You can even hire one of these professionals to slice up a jamón at your next Spanish birthday party. These guys and gals take every crevice and corner of the creamy, fat-streaked ruby flesh seriously. 

Jamón carvers don’t work for show, though carving is an artful spectacle to witness. The delicacy of hand carving preserves the silken textures, powerful aromas, and complex flavors. Unfortunately, not all packaged jamón is hand-carved, and is instead machine-sliced. A machine-sliced jamón is first deboned and pressured into a rectangular block. The block is later placed in a low temperature environment to harden and sliced with high-speed blades. Machine-slicing a simple Jamón Ibérico or Jamón Serrano won’t affect the final product too much, as the cellular structure isn’t as delicate as a 100% Ibérico de Bellota. But all that harsh manipulation can change the complexities and textures of a fine product like a true Pata Negra. If you want to preserve years of careful curing, make sure you buy hand-carved jamón.

There are a few brands out there producing 100% Ibérico de Bellota. Though some sell their jamón in what’s called a “hand-carved style,” it’s a machine-sliced product imitating a hand-carved one. We stand by a true, hand-carved Pata Negra. And we’re the only ones in the U.S. doing it exactly the way it’s been done in Spain for hundreds of generations. 

Hind legs are called “Jamón”. Front legs are called “Paleta”.


Is it really hand-carved jamón or is it paleta?

You’re searching for the beautiful taste of hand-carved Jamón 100% Ibérico de Bellota. Jamón refers to the hams, or hind legs of the pig, and is Spain’s claim to worldwide fame. The flavor is soft and complex, an unparalleled morsel of umami. When you look specifically for jamón, make sure you don’t mistakenly buy the front leg, as it’s an entirely different piece of charcuterie. Paleta, or paletilla, refers to the cured front legs of the pig. You may see paleta floating around on packages and websites in the U.S. We love paleta! So much so that we sell whole legs of Paleta 100% Ibérico de Bellota. But if you’re looking specifically for hand-carved (not hand-carved style), hind-leg jamón—the most luxurious of gastronomic Spanish delicacies—you’ll have to look to Ibérico Club.  

Free Shipping for Ibérico Club’s 2.5oz packages of Hand-Carved Jamón 100% Ibérico de Bellota.

How much does shipping cost?

Importing jamón ibérico across the Atlantic isn’t cheap, and sending it from our U.S. headquarters to your doorstep also requires special care and shipping practices. Most sellers in the States offer free shipping with a minimum order. But what if you want to try out a package of the sliced Spanish delicacy before taking the plunge? In that case, you likely won’t meet the minimum and you’ll pay for shipping. Ibérico Club’s shipping is always included, regardless of quantity or price. The price you see is the price you pay. No matter what. 

What if I don’t love it?

What happens if Jamón 100% Ibérico de Bellota isn’t for you? Ideally you return it, but that can be next to impossible with online food brands. You’ve got yourself a 100% guarantee when you order a package of hand-carved Pata Negra from Ibérico Club. In other words, if you open the package, take a bite, and don’t love it, we’ll send you a shipping label and refund every last cent. No questions asked. That’s how much we trust and believe in our product. 

What are customers saying about each brand and variety?

Always read the customer reviews. Want to know what people are really saying about jamón from any and every seller out there? Take a look at each retailer’s comments. When people are over-the-moon satisfied, they talk! And when customers are disappointed, they let you know.  

Hand Carved and Vaccum sealed Jamón Pata Negra by Ibérico Club.

Ibérico Club Sliced Jamón 

Ibérico Club is the only place you can find a package of hand-carved 100% Ibérico de Bellota Jamón in the U.S. There’s Jamón Serrano, even Jamón Ibérico. You’ll find machine-sliced and hand-carved style, or a hand-carved paleta of Pata Negra. But if you want the most exquisite and renowned product Spain has to offer, any approximation is just not the same. And if you decide it really isn’t for you, we’ll let you send it right back for free. Hand-carved Jamón 100% Ibérico de Bellota is our national culinary treasure. We want you to fall as deeply in love with it as we have. 

About the Author
Megan Lloyd
Chef and Food Writer

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