Lunch Meat of the Week – Ham

October 18, 2018 at 5:03 AM | Posted in Lunch Meat of the Week | Leave a comment
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Half ham

Ham is pork from a leg cut that has been preserved by wet or dry curing, with or without smoking. As a processed meat, the term “ham” includes both whole cuts of meat and ones that have been mechanically formed.

Ham is made around the world, including a number of highly coveted regional specialties, such as Westphalian ham and some varieties of Spanish jamón. In addition, numerous ham products have specific geographical naming protection, such as Prosciutto di Parma and Prosciutto Toscano in Europe, and Smithfield ham in the US.

The preserving of pork leg as ham has a long history, with Cato the Elder writing about the “salting of hams” in his De Agri Cultura tome around 160 BC.

There are claims that the Chinese were the first people to mention the production of cured ham. Larousse

Typical slice of ham

Gastronomique claims an origin from Gaul. It was certainly well established by the Roman period, as evidenced by an import trade from Gaul mentioned by Marcus Terentius Varro in his writings.

The modern word “ham” is derived from the Old English ham or hom meaning the hollow or bend of the knee, from a Germanic base where it meant “crooked”. It began to refer to the cut of pork derived from the hind leg of a pig around the 15th century.

Because of the preservation process, ham is a compound foodstuff or ingredient, being made up of the original meat, as well as the remnants of the preserving agent(s), such as salt, but it is still recognised as a food in its own right.

Hams aging in an atmospherically controlled storage room

Ham is produced by curing raw pork by salting, also known as dry curing, or brining, also known as wet curing. Additionally smoking may be employed. Besides salt, several ingredients may be used to obtain flavoring and preservation, from black pepper (e.g. Prosciutto Toscano) to saffron (e.g. the “Zafferano di San Gimignano”).

Ham is typically used in its sliced form, often as a filling for sandwiches and similar foods, such as in the ham sandwich and ham and cheese sandwich. Other variations include toasted sandwiches such as the croque-monsieur and the Cubano. It is also a popular topping for pizza in the United States.

Antipasto with ham and sausage

In the United Kingdom, a pork leg cut, either whole or sliced, that has been cured but requires additional cooking is known as gammon. Gammons were traditional cured before being cut from a side of pork along with bacon. When cooked, gammon is ham. Such roasts are a traditional part of British Christmas dinners.

 

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Lunch Meat of the Week -Bresaola

October 4, 2018 at 5:02 AM | Posted in Lunch Meat of the Week | Leave a comment
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A tray of assorted lunch meats with pickles and tomatoes.

Starting today and every Thursday for a while I’ll be featuring a different Lunch Meat. There are just so many different kinds just not here in America but all over the world. So I’ll see what I can find every Thursday. First all about Lunch Meats.

Lunch meats—also known as cold cuts, luncheon meats, cooked meats, sliced meats, cold meats and deli meats—are precooked or cured meat, often sausages or meat loaves, that are sliced and served cold or hot on sandwiches or on party trays. They can be bought pre-sliced in vacuum packs at a supermarket or grocery store, or they can be purchased at a delicatessen or deli counter, where they might be sliced to order. Unsliced, canned lunch meats are sold under brands such as Spam and Treet.

Bresaola

Bresaola della Valtellina (PGI/IGP), olives, a pickled onion and bread

Bresaola (pronounced [breˈzaːola]) is air-dried, salted beef (but also horse, venison and pork) that has been aged two or three months until it becomes hard and turns a dark red, almost purple color. It is made from top (inside) round, and is lean and tender, with a sweet, musty smell. It originated in Valtellina, a valley in the Alps of northern Italy’s Lombardy region.

The word comes from the diminutive of Lombard bresada (braised).

A strict trimming process is essential to give the unique flavor. Legs of beef are thoroughly defatted and seasoned with a dry rub of coarse salt and spices, such as juniper berries, cinnamon and nutmeg. They are then left to cure for a few days. A drying period of between one and three months follows, depending on the weight of the particular bresaola. The meat loses up to 40% of its original weight during aging.

In Valtellina, a similar process is applied to smaller pieces of meat. This produces a more strongly flavoured product, slinzega, which is similar to South African biltong. Traditionally, horse meat was used for slinzega, but now other meats, such as venison and pork, are used, as well.

As an antipasto, bresaola is usually sliced paper-thin and served at room temperature or slightly chilled. It is most commonly eaten on its own, but may be drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, and served with rocket (rucola, arugula) salad, cracked black pepper, and freshly shaved Parmesan cheese. Bresaola is sometimes confused with carpaccio, which is made from thinly sliced raw beef (the other ingredients are the same). Sliced bresaola should be stored well wrapped in a refrigerator.

Similar products
The bresaola produced in Valtellina is now a protected geographical indication (PGI) under EU Regulation 2081/92. Since this designation, dried beef made outside Valtellina may carry a generic name such as viande séchée or “beef prosciutto”. There are traditional products from several other areas that are similar:

* Bündnerfleisch (Bindenfleisch): from across the border in Grisons, Switzerland
* Brési: from the Doubs region of France
* Carne de sol: from northeastern Brazil
* Cecina: from León, now used elsewhere in Spain and Latin America (Cecina de León also has PGI status)
* Charque: from southern Brazil
* Chipped beef: from the United States
* Dendeng: from Indonesia
* Nagelhout: from the east of the Netherlands
* Pastırma: from Turkey, the Middle East, Caucasus and the Balkans
* Pemmican (Pemmikan): from North America
* Suho meso: from the Slavic countries
* Carpaccio de buey: from Italy is a fresh (non-preserved) variant popularized as an appetizer in 1950

 

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