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Posts Tagged ‘Jamon Iberico’

coca castle castilla y leon

Coca Castle Castilla y Leon

Known as the magical land of castles, Castilla y Leon is the region that gave birth to the Spanish language, the legendary hero El Cid and Saint Teresa of Avila. It is a land where ancient history, myth and legend have become so intertwined that it is hard to separate reality from fairytales.   Castilla y Leon is home to some of Spain’s most magnificent buildings and stunning scenery such as the walls of Avila, the cathedral of Burgos, the University of Salamanca and the aqueduct of Segovia.

The Cuisine of Castilla y Leon

The spectacular gastronomy of Castilla y Leon is an expression of this history, culture and landscape.  Traditional foods such as complex asados (roasts), magical potajes (stews), and spiritual dulces (sweets) coexist with avant-garde recipes using the treasured Iberico fresh meats, delicate cheeses and cheese accompaniments and characteristic vegetables of the region. The foods from Castilla y Leon are just like the people from this region of Spain: solid, authentic, natural, intense and enigmatic. Are you ready to experience more?

Stay Tuned for More on Castilla y Leon

During the next few months, A LA PLANCHA will feature the foods from Castilla y Leon, from Iberico and Serrano ham to artisanal cheeses and traditional tapas foods like the tortilla Española.  And of course, we must start with the king of Spain’s cuisine, Iberico ham.  We’re not holding back. We’re not saving the best for last. Here it is.

The Treasures of Castilla y Leon

Iberico Ham

The iconic Jamon Iberico (Iberico ham) is considered one of the world’s culinary treasures together with truffles and caviar.  It is made from a pure breed of pig exclusive to Spain called the Iberico pig which ranges freely in an ecosystem characterized by expansive pastureland spotted with Oak and cork trees called la Dehesa. The Iberico pig’s diet of acorns and rich grasses transfers its aromas and flavor to its meat, transforming it into a delicious morsel that melts in your mouth. The taste and texture is different from any other cured meat in the world.

Iberico Ham in a Fairy Tale Kingdom

La Alberca, Spain

La Alberca, Spain

I recently had the opportunity to travel to La Alberca in Castilla y Leon to visit the home of Fermin, maker of Iberico and Iberico de Bellota hams, as well as Iberico Lomo, Serrano Ham and Serrano Lomo. Yes, I was impressed by the spotless, state of the art facilities, but what really made an impact on me was the family that runs the company and the land they call home.

The three generations of family that run Fermin have a unique relationship with the land. They are well aware of the importance of caring for the land called the Dehesa that gives the Iberico pig life and makes the Iberico Ham what it is.

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Selecting cheeses and accompaniments for the perfect cheese plate is more of an art than a science.  There are a few rules of thumb, but with so many cheeses to choose from, the cheese plate is an expression of the person who puts the selection together. This post will give you some tips for building an extraordinary Spanish cheese plate that reflects the personality of you, the chef.  
 
 

Spanish Cheese Selection

Spanish Cheese Selection

Tip #1:Include a variety of flavors and textures.

Cheeses generally fit into a few main categories: aged, soft, firm, and blue. Or you can select cheeses by type of milk used to make them: cow, sheep, goat, or a blend. Regardless of the cheeses you select, it is always a good idea to include one more familiar cheese, like Manchego, but your choices are bounded only by your creativity and of course availability.

Spanish Cheeses by Category

  • Aged:  Montelarreina, Idiazabal, Rosemary Sheep’s Milk
  • Soft: Camerano Semi Cured Goat, Torta del Casar, Monte Enebro
  • Firm: Organic Raw Goat, 12 Month Manchego
  • Blue: Covadonga, Cabrales, Valdeon
 Spanish Cheeses by Milk Type
  • Cow: Mahon, Tetilla, La Peral
  • Sheep: Manchego, Idiazabal, Montelarreina, Rosemary Sheep’s Milk, Olive Manchego, Torta del Casar
  • Goat: Camerano, Garrotxa, Wine Goat, Organic Raw Goat, San Mateu Catalonian Goat
Tip #2: Offer a variety of breads. You can vary taste, textures, shape and size of breads just like you do with cheeses. Include a chewy baguette and fig bread, or picos and tortas de aceite for variety and flavor.
 
Piquillo Pepers

Piquillo Peppers

Tip #3: Offer jarred sauces or vegetables as an easy accompaniment. Quince paste, or membrillo is a perfect sweet accompaniment to a salty and firm cheese like Manchego or Montelarreina. Piquillo peppers have a sweet, rich flavor that compliments tangy goat cheeses or even blues like Covadonga.

Tip #4: Add a sweet and a salty food.  Salty jamon Serrano or jamon Iberico are perfect accompaniments to a combination of cheeses from Spain, as are Marcona almonds, salty Gordal olives and sweet caramelized olives.

What’s on your ideal Spanish cheese plate?

 

Interested in the Spanish foods you read about on this blog? Wholesale clients like restaurants and retail stores, please visit. www.Solexapartners.com. Consumers, please visit www.FoodSpain101.com.

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The holidays are a time we typically spend with our families and friends. It’s also a time of year when our Solex team members from Spain start reminiscing about their families and friends back in Spain. During our Solex holiday dinner we had a long conversation about our favorite holiday foods and Spanish traditions over a few glasses of wine. We had so much to talk about that we decided to share some of it with you via a la Plancha.

The Point of View from Ray’s Catalonian Stomach

We’ll start with Ray, our numbers guy, who is from Barcelona. Now, if you know much about Spain, you know that Barcelona is in a region called Catalonia where they have their own unique language, customs and foods. Here’s what Ray had to say about his favorite holiday foods and memories.

Escudella I Carn d’Olla

For me, the highlight of the holiday season is spending time with family and friends, and eating great food.  Unlike the rest of Spain, we don’t have our big family meal on Christmas Eve. For us, the focal point is Christmas day when we eat a traditional dish called Escudella I Carn d’Olla. In Barcelona,where I am from, Paella may be more famous and pa amb tomaquet more ubiquitous but Escudella I Carn d’Olla is truly the national dish.  It is a slow-cooked, one pot stew with meat and vegetables that is served year round in Catalonia, but on Christmas we pull out all the stops. Our Christmas version adds chicken (for Saint Peter), Pork (for Saint Anthony), beef (for Saint Luke), lamb (for Saint John) and a giant football shaped meatball called a Pilota. And don’t forget the Galets, giant shell-shaped pasta typical of Catalonia.  

Though Escudella i carn d’olla is the star of our traditional Catalan Christmas dinner, we also serve grilled prawns, jamon Iberico and cheese like Senorio de Montelarreina which is my favorite. My grandmother’s recipe for Escudella I Carn d’Olla is a closely guarded family secreted. The three wise men would give up their Frankincense and Myrrh for the recipe. But someone’s grandmother was nice enough to share hers in this video.

For me, the celebration of the St. Stephen’s day (known also as Boxing Day) on December 26th also makes Catalonia unique. The food of the day is Canelones de San Estaban, stuffed with the filling that remains from the Christmas Escudella, turkey, or capon. Step aside Italy, Catalonia’s Canelones are coming through!

Ignacio and the Twelve Grapes

New Year's Eve Grapes Courtesy of diarioinformacion.com

Another of our team members, Ignacio, is from Madrid. Here’s what he had to say about his favorite traditions of the season.

My family’s big dinner on December 24th is always the best, an opportunity to catch up with relatives I haven’t seen for a while over a great meal. Any Spaniard will tell you that the Jamon Iberico is the center of attention during any celebration, but at Christmastime, it gets a little competition from seafood, lamb, fish, and my all time favorite, capon.

New Years Eve, is also one of my favorite days of the year. In Spain, if you’re superstitious, your luck for the entire next year is determined at the stroke of midnight. How? When the clock starts to strike midnight, you must eat one grape for each strike of the clock. If you can manage to eat 12 grapes during this short period of time, you are guaranteed to have a good year. With or without the guarantee of a good year, our next stop is usually the local Churreria where we buy hot and crispy Churros or fried dough and dip them in gooey chocolate.   Haven’t planned your New Year’s Eve menu yet? Make your own Churros and chocolate using this recipe.

Jose’s Basket of Goodies

Christmas Basket

When we started to talk about holiday memories, Jose, one of our founding team members, was reminded of his childhood when negotiating about food began for him at an early age. Here is Jose’s story.

In Spain, it is customary for companies to send their employees home with Christmas baskets (which for the lucky are more like chests) filled with traditional Spanish foods each year. These holiday baskets are stuffed with typical Spanish goodies like crunchy Marcona almonds, salty white anchovies from the Cantabrian Sea, juicy olives from Granada, sweet and chewy Turron from Alicante, and of course Iberico ham which needs no introduction.  My father was no exception. Each year he would come home with what as a child seemed like a Christmas basket as big as my youngest sister.

As the oldest sibling, I took charge each year. First my three siblings and I gathered together to plot out our strategy.  With excitement reflected in our bright young eyes, we reviewed what had come in last year’s basket and what our father might bring home in this year’s. The next and most important part was negotiating to get dibs on each of our favorite items from the basket. By the time our father brought the basket home, we had claimed every last item except for the Cava, his favorite.  To this day, the sight of a holiday gift basket brings me back to the holidays of my childhood.

This is just a glimpse of what the holiday season means to us here at Solex. What are your favorite holiday traditions and memories?

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serrano2

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Watch us celebrating the “Farewell Party of the Black Hoof” together with the Food Channel at the National Restaurant Show. It’s a funny short clip. You’ll find it at minute 3:15!
Black Hoof Farewell Party

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