The Unorthodox Epicure — Serrano Ham-Wrapped Asparagus

If there’s one thing you should know about Serrano ham, it’s this: Grandma didn’t serve this stuff at Easter during your childhood.

Nope. Well, unless you lived in Spain as a child.

Whereas the ham we (North Americans) are used to is a smoky juicy delicacy in itself, our friends in Spain serve up this sumptuous section of swine in a different manner — because, it’s an entirely different version. Think of Mexican chorizo vs. Spanish chorizo — one is a cumin-laden loosely packed sausage, while the other is a dry cured version, similar in taste and texture to pepperoni. Both are delicious.

The ham I ate on Easter Sundays was so tender, I could cut it with a plastic fork. It was canned in a solution, after all. Serrano ham, on the other hand, is just this side of brittle. Not crunchy, but definitely firm. The jerky-like texture could be a reason it’s generally sliced so thinly. Another reason could be it’s uber-rich salty flavor.

Serrano ham, like some other products produced in Europe (Balsamic vinegar, Champagne, Parmesan), are done under strict laws. For starters, any ham labeled as Serrano must come from any one of several domesticated breeds of white pig. (If that sounds strange, or politically incorrect, just know that any beef in the U.S. labeled as Angus, must come from a predominately black cow. Read more about that here.) Serrano hams are also dry-cured for 14-16 months — or longer. There are other rules, but the bottom line is that Serrano ham tastes divine.

It’s so delicious, in fact, that our Euro friends have been feasting on it since at least the days when Romans ruled the world. Fortunately, most decent deli counters these days offer the thinly-sliced Serrano ham hookup in a matter of minutes — no armor required.

Ham-wrapped asparagus is a favorite old-school appetizer in my neck of the woods. The Serrano ham version is even better, as the flavors and textures have a markedly delectable contrast.

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Serrano Ham-Wrapped Asparagus

asparagus wrapped with Serrano ham

Serrano Ham-Wrapped Asparagus — An easy gourmet appetizer

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Serrano Ham-Wrapped Asparagus
 
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Serrano Ham-Wrapped Asparagus — An easy gourmet appetizer
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. - Fresh asparagus spears, washed and trimmed
  • ¼ lb. - Serrano ham, sliced very thinly
  • 2 tsp - Black pepper
  • Olive oil (spray)
Instructions
Blanch the asparagus (optional)
  1. In a large saucepan, bring about 3 cups of water to a boil; place asparagus in boiling water until they begin to turn bright green — about 20 seconds — then remove and submerge them in iced water; drain and proceed with recipe.
Prepare the appetizers
  1. Serrano ham generally comes in long rectangular slices (when you buy it from a deli), so cut or tear each slice in half lengthwise.
  2. Starting about an inch from the asparagus crown, wrap downward with Serrano ham. (Some of them might seem loose-fitting, and that's fine.)
  3. Place wrapped asparagus on baking sheet and coat with olive oil spray.
  4. Place under broiler for about 2 minutes.*
  5. Season with pepper.
  6. Serve immediately.
Notes
Serrano Ham-Wrapped Asparagus may be alternatively grilled or cooked in a grill pan — about 2 minutes over a hot flame/high setting.

 

Comments

  1. Well, yes, I think we all have memories of the “canned in solution” hams of our youth.

  2. Adam, you crack me up. “…sumptuous section of swine.” :) I’ll never look at ham the same! Thanks for this recipe and for your alternate cooking method suggestions, too. I don’t use my grill pan nearly often enough and it’s been too hot outside to fire up the Weber Kettle. Indoor grilled goodies are a wonderful compromise!

    • adamjholland says:

      Ah, thank you Kim. I most often write what’s on my mind and ‘sumptuous’ just fit at the time (and always). I hope you’re well.

      • Thanks for thinking of me, Adam. I’m doing well, thank you. The big question is: how are you ‘n’ yours (and your house) doing with the hurricane? Be safe, my friend! I’m serving up your asparagus spears tomorrow for a Ladies’ Luncheon at the Lake (gotta love alliteration, ha) although they’ll be wrapped w/prosciutto. (No Serrano where I shop, dang it.) BTW, “sumptuous” is a great state of mind! Take care.

        • adamjholland says:

          The ‘Dive House’ took on plenty of water and we are exhausted. Night No. 1 is being spent in our old stomping grounds (The ‘Jimmy Rockford.’) As I type this, we are expecting another 10 or so inches of the wet stuff. It’s inconvenient for sure, but we’ll come out on the other side. — Prosciutto is a fine sub, by the way.

  3. You’re speaking my language! Spanish ham is a passion of mine. Recently customs picked up a beautiful Jamon Iberico (about $1500 if bought in the USA) that our friends sent us from Spain. I hope the bastards choked on it. hahaha I kid, I kid. This recipe is really delivers taste far beyond the effort. Simply beautiful.

    • adamjholland says:

      Did they give a reason for confiscating the ham? National security?

      • No they didn’t. I suspect it was because they were hungry. -_- Apparently ham can’t get through customs but Chinese opiates get through all the time. smh

        • adamjholland says:

          I had some similar experiences with citrus trees and the Texas Dept. of Agriculture. When those guys considered certain trees to be ‘contraband,’ you could either destroy them in the state’s presence, or let the state take them. It was ridiculous.

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