When I arrived in Australia, you couldn't buy jamon. So after seeking advice from fellow local Spaniards, my farther took it upon himself to make his own. The process was fantastic. We would wait for the first frost then dad would arrive home with 12 legs of pork in an esky in the car boot. We pressed them, then salted them lovingly, then hung them from the ceiling of our carport.
The time between when we finished eating the previous year's supply and when the next batch was ready felt like forever. The first slices from the new leg for the year would always be a little under-cured due to our haste to try it, but still so delicious.
This small, filled roll from Seville is the ultimate breakfast sandwich. As with any simple dish, you need the best ingredients: good crusty rolls, fragrant garlic, a sweet, juicy tomato and the best jamon you can lay your hands on. One espresso and two of these is the perfect start to the day.
Toasted jamon and tomato roll
8 small bread rolls
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
100ml extra virgin olive oil
4 ripe tomatoes, cut in half
16 slices of jamon
Cut the bread rolls in half and lightly toast the cut sides. Cut the garlic cloves in half. Rub the toasted sides of the rolls with the garlic to impart a generous but not-too-overwhelming flavour. Drizzle a little olive oil over each toasted side, then rub each one with the cut side of tomato, using half a tomato for each roll, and leaving a good amount of juice and pulp. Place two slices of jamon on the bottom of each roll, cover with the top half and serve immediately.
Baked whiting with jamon and garlic mayonnaise
6 King George whiting, about 300g each (ask the fish monger to fillet them and keep the bones)
1 tomato, quartered
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 bay leaves
1 leek, white part only, chopped
100ml white wine
3 nicola potatoes, or other waxy potatoes, peeled and sliced 1cm thick
12 slices jamon
Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle
1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
For the alioli
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 egg yolks
2 pinches sea salt
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
150ml extra virgin olive oil
150ml vegetable oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp hot water
To make the alioli, chop the garlic cloves finely then place in a food processor. Add the egg yolks, salt and mustard then turn on the processor and pour oils in slowly until the mixture thickens. While the processor is still running, add the lemon juice and hot water, mix to combine then pour into a bowl. Place the fish bones, tomato, garlic, bay leaves, leek and wine in a large saucepan. Add just enough water to cover, then cook over medium heat until just below the boil. Reduce the heat to low then simmer very gently for 25 minutes, skimming the surface regularly. Strain, discard the solids, pour the stock into a large saucepan and bring back to simmer. Add sliced potato and cook for 20 minutes or until tender. Keep warm for later. Preheat oven to 180C. Skin side down, season the fish fillets then place a slice of jamon on top of each fillet. Start from the tail end and roll up then secure with a toothpick. Place the fish on a baking tray, drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 10 minutes or until the fish is just cooked through. Meanwhile, preheat the grill to high. Remove the fish from the oven, top with one tablespoon of alioli and grill for one minute or until golden. To serve, divide the fish and potatoes between six plates and spoon a small amount of stock over the potatoes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
There are different types of jamon. The one I have used in these recipes is serrano, which is great for cooking and very affordable.
A WINE FOR...SAVVY PATRIOTS
Shaw + Smith Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Kiwi sauvignon blanc, "savvy" in the NZ vernacular, is hugely popular in Australia, but if you want to wave the flag and support our producers, some Oz vineyards do savvy every bit as well as our cousins across the ditch. Shaw + Smith's admirable take on the variety is an Adelaide Hills benchmark that gets better each vintage. The 2014 offers zesty lemon-lime, tropical fruit, and light steely aromas that flow into a truly vibrant mouthful of juicy varietal flavour that's persistent, fresh and tangy. RALPH KYTE-POWELL