Flavoursome Late-Spring Feast: Coated Asparagus Stuffed with Iberian Ham and 3 Zesty White Options

Vineyards are all springing to life, flowers are coming out, asparagus are appearing and new wines are comming to sanjamon.com. We would like to present you a selection  of zesty,  thirst-quenching wines we find ideal to pair with today’s recipe.

As you all know we do love seasonal produce and at this time of the year our local farmer´s markets are full of excellent fresh asparagus. So we picked up a bunch of them and prepared an excellent hot starter. So if you are looking for that perfect late spring feast, you do not need an excuse or a special occasion to give it a try. Uncork (or unscrew!) one of our easy-drinking wines and enjoy.

 

 

 

But first things first. Asparagus has been used as a vegetable and medicine since ancient times due to its delicate flavour and mainly due to its  diuretic and even aphrodisiac properties.  In fact, the earliest known recipe for asparagus is included in one of the world’s oldest cookbooks written in the 3rd century A.D.: asparagus with eggs, salt and pepper.

Today we will focus on white asparagus, the most popular variety in our country, despite the fact that this “edible ivory” implies tons of work. White asparagus are grown in the dark to stop any color development; stalks are grown underground, beneath mounds of soil.  They don’t receive sunlight so they do not produce chlorophyll and shoots remain white in color. The result is a spring delicacy, less bitter and much more tender than green or violet asparagus.

 

Coated Asparagus Stuffed with Iberian Ham

Cooking level: easy and fun

Time: 20 minutes or less 🙂

For this recipe, you will need:

 

6 thick asparagus (that have more of a meaty center)

100 gr Iberian ham finely sliced

1 eggs

Flour

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If you have the chance to visit the local farmers market, do not hesitate and pick up a bunch of them. Remember that you have to peel the lower end of white asparagus before cooking (boiled or steemed)  or raw consumption. If you don’t, don’t worry; just open a tin of white asparagus.

In any case, the most important step is to drain. Drain onto kitchen paper. Butterfly each asparagus, carefully running your knife down its entire length.

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Cut the Iberian ham slices into strips and fill the asparagus with them.

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Close up the asparagus around the Iberian ham strips and coat with flour

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Dip in egg batter

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and fry them with extra virgin olive oil, both sides, for a few minutes.

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Drain the excess oil by laying the asparagus on kitchen paper

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To delight your dinners, serve straight!

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Our Wine Selection

It is nice to drink good wine even if it is your everyday wine. Now is time to uncork or open the bottle; you can choose your favourite from Spain or from the world:)

Verdejo Casa María, Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon. Vinified entirely from Verdejo grapes this crisp , clean and refreshing wine is ideal to pair with starters or appetizers. 12% ABV. In this case you will not need any corkscrew since this bottle has screw cap, easy to open 😉

verdejo casa maria

 

Riesling Kendermanns direct from Germany. 100% Riesling. An harmoniously fruity wine with a long lingering finish. 12%ABV. Serve chilled as the perfect refreshing aperitif or to accompany dishes such as asparagus, risotto or salmon. It hits the spot!

reh-kendermann-classic-riesling-germany

Chardonnay Vivace Frizzante  Cornalè IGT, Italy. One more crisp wine with a pleasant bitter note, drinkable on any occasion. Perfect choice as appetizer. Suited to light starters 🙂 To be served between 8º and 10ºC.chardonnay

Have a great week and Happy Spring Bank Holiday for those lucky enough to be enjoying it!

Delicious Easter Garlic Soup

Easter is one of the most authentic, emotive and deep-rooted of Spanish celebrations. It commemorates the passion and death of Jesus Christ. Every region has its special  way to celebrate both festive and religious aspects. Castile-Leon, where our company Sanjamon.com is located, is characterized by the silence and austerity of its religious processions. Streets are crowded and people admire the figures devoutly and respectfully. The sober atmosphere is only broken by the sound of the trumpets and drums, accompanying the religious figures, which are excellent Spanish works of religious art.semana santa, Easter, Spain, Valladolid, Castilla y León
At that time garlic  soup is a typical dish to eat, especially in Lent, not in vain, during the dawn of Good Friday. It is a long-standing custom to have this soup, served hot, of course, for breakfast after having spent the evening and night accompanying the religious figures as they pass.

Any soup is always an excellent starter and one of the best ways to get warm. Spanish garlic soup is certainly one of the most typical Spanish recipes, due to its long-established tradition. It is made with water, bread and garlic, the most humble ingredients in times of shortage. Garlic soup was not part of the menu enjoyed by wealthy people at those days.

“No hay campana sin badajo ni sopa buena sin ajo.”

“There is no bell without clapper or good soup without garlic.”

Garlic is an indispensable ingredient in traditional cuisine and the basis of most Spanish specialties. We inherit this particular recipe from the Castilian shepherds, who usually took garlic soup for lunch, made from stale bread, water, paprika, bay, garlic and one or two eggs poached in the rustic soup.

Bread contains carbohydrates which helped battle fatigue during the long and hard working day in the fields; eggs, ham, chorizo or salt pork enhance the soup, providing proteins and fats, and sometimes onion, apart from garlic, which provides antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Paprika is used as seasoning to flavor the soup.

We can find a wide variety of versions depending on the regions. F or instance in Cuenca, Castilla la Mancha, even the name of the soup changes, there it is called “shepherd’s soup” and they add dried pepper “pimiento choricero” instead of paprika; in Andalucía they add cauliflower and in the Basque country, salt cod.

This recipe is genuine Castilian and a real nutritional treasure.

Traditionally, the stale bread was used because it was impossible to bite into it and there was no other use for it. Apart from bread, stale or not, we need water, olive oil, some cloves of garlic, paprika, eggs and salt.

It would be perfect to have a clay pot, but if you don’t have one, no problem.

Place it in the pot with the olive oil and brown the peeling garlics, add the bread slices along with the paprika, water and salt. Let it simmer on medium for about ten minutes. Just before serving, turn the heat down and poach the eggs in the soup and let them cook for about three minutes. The soup will be ready when the egg whites are white. Enjoy your garlic soup and Happy Holy Week!

sopa ajo

Paella, On A High Flame Please

The Spanish language is full of colorful proverbs to celebrate what happens in and around the kitchen.  Proverbs often explain the how and why of the order in which foods must be eaten or how food brings people together. One of the great uniters in Spain is paella and today that we are celebrating the International Spanish Paella Day, what a better way to celebrate this day than learning curious facts about it and of course, turning out the perfect one?

There are as many stories to explain the origin of paella as there are versions of it. Linguists believe that the word paella comes from the name of the pan it is made in – the Latin term patella, a flat plate on which offerings were made to the Gods. We have the word in Castilian “paila” which denotes a utensil with the same characteristics, called “paele” in French and “paella” in ancient Valencian.

There is an old story of how the Moorish kings’ servants created rice dishes by mixing the left-overs from royal banquets in large pots to take home. It is said by some that that word paella originates from the Arab word “baqiyah” meaning left-overs.

Last but not least, my favorite explanation of the origin of the term. I read it a long time ago and I tell it every time I have the chance so, here it goes. Back to ancient times, when women were usually housewives, a woman was getting ready to enjoy the rest day, Sunday. Sunday, was the men’s turn to do the housework and cook. In those days, it was possible to find any ingredient going for a stroll around the vegetable garden: fresh vegetables, rice, snails… on special days, a rabbit or a duck could be added to the dish. Imagine the conversation between men from those days:

“Hey, What’s up? –Que estàs cuinant?–  What are you cooking?

Hi, – ‘estic cuinant pa’ ella, pa’ la dona– I’m cooking for her, for my wife today it’s her turn to rest”

This sentence was pronounced day after day, year after year, century after century… from I’m cooking for her, pa’ la dona, pa’ella, to I’m cooking paella, the dish. Is it not a great story?

Wherever the word derives from, we love paella!

Regarding versions and preparation, I cannot fail to mention some tips and other curious facts. The rice used to prepare paella is rounded and short grain type. Ideal if it comes from Valencia around the Albufera Natural Reserve or Calasparra in Murcia. It is called “arroz Bomba” which literally means bomb rice. It is a pearly grain with the incredible property of absorbing even three times its own volume and consequently the flavor of the ingredients, all of which stays firm during cooking.  It must be dry and separate when done and both tender and al dente at the same time. It should have a crunch at the bottom of the pan called socarrat. Scratching the pan base with a wooden spoon is a meal ritual.

The right pan, called a paella or paellera plays a fundamental part. Its shape helps to cook the rice in a thin layer. Everyone eats out from the same plate and the stainless pan is the perfect utensil to do this.

Ideally, paella should be cooked over an open wood fire, uncovered until the final resting period. Just before eating it, cover the paella with a wet dishcloth. So if you have the chance, do not hesitate and cook it outdoors. Wood from an orange tree would be perfect.

Paella_hirviendo_madera de naranjo

 

Everybody loves paella, but finding the right ingredients, especially when outside of Spain can be a big chore. With our paella kit you’ll have everything you need to turn out perfect,true and authentic flavored paella. For those wanting an easy-to-prepare, easily accessible paella, this is the kit for you. The individual pan size is perfect to enjoy in good company with a friend and includes all the ingredients for paella in 9 minutes flat. It includes a stainless steel pan for two, rice, seasonings and tin of seafood and cooking liquid.

Preparation:

1. Pour the entire content of the tin into a pan. Then, fill the empty tin with water and add it to the broth. Cook it over high heat until the broth boils.

2. Once the broth is boiling, add the seasoning sachet and stir.

3. Cook it over medium-high heat for approximately 9 minutes. Once the liquid has been evaporated, it will be ready. Leave to stand 2 minutes covered with a wet dishcloth and serve.

How can you know if you’ve cooked the perfect paella? It is said that paella is perfect when people eat all the rice and leave other bits on the plate. Give it a try and let us know!

Happy International Paella Day!

Fried Eggs, Chorizo and Bread, A Delicious Childhood Memory

By: Sero, Marketing

Some of my most delicious childhood memories are linked to the flavor of fresh hen’s eggs fried and chorizo prepared by my grandmother. It sounds easy, but believe me, nobody else has been able to prepare this simple dish with the same flavor… apart from my mother.

Late February is traditionally the time to cure chorizo, salchichón and other pig delicacies, and now, at the beginning of March these pieces are ready to be tried. They have spent more than 20 days hanging from poles in the ceiling, drying out. Since they were hung, we have paid attention to the whole process. In the first days, with the meat and seasoning still wet, drops fall down at different times playing a slow rhythm and making marks on the panera floor. The panera is a kind of attic with little or no light and excellent air circulation. There is no exact translation into English.

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Every morning the poles must be taken down and exposed to the sunshine in order to expedite the drying and curing process. There they dazzle and swing under the sunlight. The smell is glorious: paprika, salt; exotic and familiar at the same time. The air cools in the evening and the chorizos are taken back inside the panera.

A few days later white mold starts covering the red- and white-dotted chorizos. This is a good sign. This happens because of the oxidation of the meat in the atmosphere and is a perfectly natural occurrence. Don’t forget to always remove the skin before eating a slice. As the days go by, the soft, malleable meat dries into chewy links and  the drawings on the floor disappear. There is no more dripping. There is no sound at all. They are ready to be enjoyed.

I don’t know if this happens to you, but in my case even following her recipes step-by-step I could never make a dish taste like my grandmother’s. But we are going to give it a try. The following recipe, a traditional rustic style bread with a touch of chorizo, is very easy, but full of flavor.

Chorizo Bread and Fried Eggs

INGREDIENTS FOR 6 PEOPLE
3 Farm-fresh eggs
325 g flour
3 spring onions
4 cloves of garlic
10 g baking powder
50 ml verdejo wine
200 ml whole or full-fat milk
200 g chorizo
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt, one loaf pan

-For the bread-

Spread extra virgin olive oil in a mould and then flour it. Shake off the excess flour.
Finely chop  the spring onions and slightly fry them in a pan with two spoons of extra virgin olive oil.
Sift the flour and baking powder together over a big bowl. Add the slightly fried spring onions, eggs, wine, a spoon of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and the milk. Mix well.
Chop the chorizo into small cubes and fry them slightly in a pan with a spoon of oil. Degrease your chorizo, add it to the mix.
Place the mix into the mould and bake at 180 ºC for about 45 minutes.

-For the eggs-

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a small pan. Fry the eggs one by one along with the garlic (without peeling them). Season.

Cut the bread into slices and serve together with the fried eggs.

Happy Mother’s Day and have a delightful meal!

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And The Winner Is…

Probably some of you remember our blog-naming contest. We received dozens of responses with names and we had a hard time deciding. In the end, we chose what we think is the name that best encapsulates what San Jamon is all about: Sabor, or flavour.

The winner, Nikki Edwards, wrote, “(Sabor)…is short and simple, reflects the Spanish nature of your products, and there’s also the play on “taste” as in having taste or being a connoisseur.” A fabulous name and a well-deserved winner that, inspired by the exquisite flavour of our signature San Jamon Iberian Paleta, spontaneously took her suitcase and together with her other half, travelled to Spain. And when we asked if she could send us a photo of herself enjoying the acorn-fed paleta, she did us one better. Instead of sending us a boring picture showing her prize, she created a collage of some of the pictures they took on their gastronomic getaway in Barcelona.

Sabors Catalans

It coincides that we get a lot of requests for what to do with the paleta or ham bone once all the meat has been enjoyed. A common way of taking advantage of this bone is Iberian Ham Croquetas. There are several elements to this recipe, but the result is an exotically-spiced, silky-smooth croqueta that will melt in your mouth and leave a finish of the rich, nutty flavor from the cooking down of the bone.

Iberian Ham Croquetas

INGREDIENTS

200g Iberian ham/paleta finely chopped

40 g Iberian ham oil (see below)

100 g butter

1 spring onion

160 g flour

200g cream

500 g Iberian ham consommé (see below)

A pinch of salt

To coat, fry and decorate:

Bread crumbs

One egg

1 L of extra virgin olive oil

A couple of Iberian ham/paleta slices

-For the consommé-

First of all we have to prepare the consommé, one of the top 10 flu-fighting foods, by the way. Take the bones and place them in cold water, wait until water boils. Turn the heat to simmer over low heat for about two hours. Many impurities will float to surface. By sure to skim the surface periodically, and especially at the beginning of boil. We want our bones to be completely clean. Ideally, you’ll reduce the consommé from 2, 5 liters to 450 ml.  Strain it and set aside.

-For the Iberian Ham oil-

Take 200g of the Iberian ham fat (removing yellow parts) and add vegetal oil 20 cl to sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until the fat has melted and set aside. Let it cool. You can use this super special oil to sprinkle it on a toast or even flavor a purée.

-Croquetas-

1. In a saucepan, heat the cream along with the consommé.

2. In a separate saucepan, add the butter, the ham oil and the finely chopped spring onion. Cook it over low heat until the spring onion is lightly fried. Add the flour and cook while stirring to make a roux.

3. Add the cream and consommé mixture heated as well as 100 g of Iberian ham/paleta finely chopped. Cook for 5 minutes more over medium heat while stirring. You can use a hand beater or a spatula.

4. once the croquet dough is well blended remove from heat and the rest of the finely chopped Iberian ham/paleta. Taste the seasoning and add the pick of salt if required.

5. Take a tray and cover it with cling wrap. Spread the dough and let it cool down in the fridge for one hour.

6. Once the dough is ready, take small pieces, around 30 g , and form either balls or rolls with it.

7. Time to cover the croquetas in a batter of flour, egg, and bread crumbs. If you repeat this step twice your croquetas will be extra crispy outside and extra creamy inside. 🙂

8. Put them into the extra virgin olive oil. Adding a bit of vegetable oil with a higher smoke point will help. After about two minutes, they should be golden brown. Take them out and serve straight. Do not forget to cover them with finely slices of Iberian Ham.

A treat for the taste buds!!

croquetas

Autumn Tastes Like Quince

Fruit tastes best when eaten in season and as we are in quince harvest time and we do love seasonal products, it is time to review this fruit known as “source of health”.

Its scientific name “Cydonia oblonga” comes from Cydonia, a city on the island of Crete famous for growing quinces, which in Ancient Greece was already well-known and highly prized.

For centuries, this fruit has been considered an essential part of the Mediterranean diet due to its beneficial nutritional contents, such as pectin, the natural fibre that many fruits have under the skin. Quince is one of the fruits that contains the highest percentage of this, providing much more fibre than other fruit, such as peaches, apricots or plums. It combats intestinal disorders. It is also a food rich in minerals such as iron, phosphorus and potassium, essential minerals that will help you to keep your muscles and bones in perfect condition. Quince also contains a significant amount of Vitamin C, which we need to absorb iron into our blood.  A totally cholesterol free product and that contains no fat or gluten.

Quince is a bright golden yellow aromatic fruit. Despite being hard, astringent and sour to eat raw, it’s excellent to make into a jam, jelly or paste. So, we are going to prepare an excellent autumnal dessert, whose principal ingredient is obviously the quince paste:

Quince and Manchego Millefeuille

The one that we are using for this recipe is processed in Murcia, Spain and packaged in an elegant heat-sealed plastic shaped like an ingot 🙂 easy piece!!

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Cooking level: very very easy

Time: Prep: 10 minutes or less…

For this recipe, you will need:

1 pack of Emily quince paste

200g wedge of Manchego cheese

6 whole walnuts in the shell

6 organic honey spoons

First of all, remove the husks by applying pressure to the ends of the walnut and set aside.

Cut the Manchego cheese into squares, finger-thick. You will use three slices for each mille-feuille so you’ll need nine in total.

Cut also the quince jam the same thickness and size as your cheese. You’ll use two for each mille-feuille so you’ll need six quince slices.

Now it’s time to decorate the plate. Small details that will help make your dessert amazing:

Put one teaspoon of organic honey and spread it in a circular pattern. Honey adds a complementary color and flavor to the dessert.

Assembly:

Lay down one rectangle of Manchego cheese and sprinkle sugar on it, if you have a kitchen blowtorch caramelize the sugar, if you don’t, don’t worry, just place the quince jam square and gently press down, continue until you place the final layer of cheese.

Decorate the top of the millefeuille with the whole walnut and a touch of honey. Eh voila! And excellent dessert with an incredible taste, rich in fibre and totally healthy.

Bon appétit!!

Arzak-Inspired Hake and Clams with Bellota Ham Crisp

This month we’ve changed the look of our newsletter and added a blog to our website (check out sidebar for naming-contest details!). There we’ll include wine pairings for featured wines, classic Spanish recipes prepared by real people, and trends in gastronomy on the Iberian peninsula. The beloved bellota ham will usually make an appearance along with chorizo, lomo, Manchego cheese and all the other reasons why you keep coming back to San Jamón. The beauty of bellota ham is the sweet and salty simplicity that melts in your mouth. But, it has other preparations. This month we toast our ham (gasp!) in the oven and set it along side hake in salsa verde and potatoes with toasted bellota ham ‘dust’ sprinkled on top. Recipe is inspired by Juan Mari Arzak of the eponymous Michelin, three-star restaurant.

I'm in luck! Hake is on sale at local fish market.

I’m in luck! Hake is on sale at local fish market.

We prepared this dish in the San Jamon kitchen. But first, I had to visit the fishmonger to get some fresh hake. Having paid close attention to Arzak’s recipe notes, I inquired if the hake was 24-hours old. He assured me that it was a fresh catch even after I explained that I preferred a day-old one. Getting a puzzled look, I added that Arzak recommends this otherwise the excess water retained by said hake would make the dish insipid. The fishmonger nodded and smiled silently, several times, as he artfully prepared my merluza of questionable age. It was never clear to me exactly how old the fish was as much as we tried to take chef Arzak’s tips to heart. It was safe to assume the fish was at least a few hours old as fish in this part of Spain (Valladolid) usually comes from Galicia very early the same morning.

The fishmonger showing the freshness of fish according to the brillance of the red interior.

The fishmonger showing the freshness of fish according to the brillance of the red interior.

Spraying knife for hake preparation at fishmarket

Spraying knife for hake preparation at fish market

Removing the spine. I asked him to save it, along with the head, for a homemade fish broth.

Removing the spine. I asked him to save it, along with the head, for a homemade fish stock.

Cooking level: easy with a little finesse

Time: Prep: 20 minutes; Cooking: 30 minutes (or slightly more if you wanted a thicker, more reduced sauce and/or you choose to make a basic fish stock from spine and head)

For this recipe, you will need:

-For the hake in sauce-

4 200g loins of steaky white fish with skin. This recipe calls for merluza (hake), but cod or halibut would work great as well

4 cloves of garlic

2 heaping spoonfuls of italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped

12 spoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil

1 glass of cold water

salt

-For the sautéed clams and vinaigrette-

250g of fresh (not 24-hour!) clams

4 spoonfuls of extra virgin olive oil

spoonful of onion, finely chopped

2 spoonfuls of cider vinegar

1 small dried cayenne chili pepper

-For the hake in sauce-

Clean the loins, better with a cloth. Season them. Put a pan  on the stovetop wide enough to fit all the loins. Crowding a pan is the worst for even cooking. Simmer garlic, parsley and oil. Before the garlic starts to brown add the hake loins skin side up. Add glass of water (for this I diverted from Arzak version and ladled in a previously made fish stock from spine and head instead of the water. It made the sauce less translucent, but possibly more flavorful and more body.) and keep cooking for about 3 minutes (depending on thickness), shaking the pan to pickup the sauce. Then turn over the loins and continue cooking for another 3 minutes. Season. Before dishing you should make sure that the sauce is well blended, if not, take the spines off the head (if you did not make optional fish stock), moving the pan sauce and reducing on med-high heat.

Hake in sauteed garlic and parsley before adding fish broth.

Hake in sautéed garlic and parsley before adding fish broth.

Ladling fish stock into fish, sauteed garlic and fish juices

Ladling fish stock into fish, sauteed garlic and fish juices

-For the sautéed clams and vinaigrette-

Take a bowl, a couple of hours before, and place the clams in salted water to loosen sand trapped in clams. Rinse well. Put a pan with olive oil and the pepper (ground between your fingers) over high heat. Check clams and saute pan moving well. As soon as they open, remove them. Make a vinaigrette with olive oil , vinegar, fresh garlic, onion and salt. Raise heat briefly, but do not boil. Remove the shells of clams and season your meat with the warm vinaigrette.

Parsley and ground cayenne pepper in olive oil

Parsley and ground cayenne pepper in olive oil

–For the ham crisp and ham ‘dust’-

Cut the ham into thin slices . Put them on a tray and enter the oven at 200 C degrees for 10 minutes ( until very crispy and toasted ). Then crush one slice in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder until reduced to fine powder. We broke the other toasted slice into pieces and used as garnish. It looks very professional and is actually quite easy.

Two slices San Jamón bellota ham laid out carefully on oven tray

Two slices San Jamón bellota ham laid out carefully on oven tray

Between two sheet pans at 300 F for 10 minutes

Between two sheet pans at 375 F for 10 minutes

It was not included in Arzak’s recipe, but we also added some slow-cooked potatoes that we first fried in olive oil for about 3 minutes each side on medium-high heat, and then added the rest of the fish stock on a low simmer. If you leave it to boil, the potatoes will break up.

Potatoes frying in extra virgin olive oil

Potatoes frying in extra virgin olive oil

The dish can be prepared in a full meal portion or in a smaller, tapas-style size.

Tapa of hake with clams in salsa verde and crisp bellota ham

Tapa of hake with clams in salsa verde and crisp bellota ham

Hake on blue plate

Send us photos of how your hake and ham turned out! What do you think of this recipe?