Serrano hams, a Spanish speciality, are cured to preserve the meat and lock in flavour. Serrano hams are made using a hog's back leg. To make your own Serrano ham, you need adequate space to cure the ham and a fresh, high-quality cut of pork. Serve slices of your Serrano ham as finger food with fruit, cheese and grapes or use with Spanish recipes. You can also wrap strips of Serrano ham around other meats, such as scallops or rabbit. Serrano ham is also delicious with breakfast and can be fried like bacon, or served in scrambles or omelettes.
Place a fresh, uncured cut of ham skin-side down in the sink and allow excess moisture to drain. Allow it to drain for several minutes.
Cover your workspace with butcher paper or brown all-purpose paper. Spread 1/3 to 1/2 cup of salt evenly on paper.
Set the ham on the paper with the skin-side up. Make a cut in the backside, the hock end, and insert 3 tbsp of salt into the opening. Sprinkle another 1/3 to 1/2 cup of salt over the entire ham. Also sprinkle 1/4 cup each of sugar and black pepper. Massage the ingredients into the skin and fat for several minutes. Use extra salt on the hock end and the shank ends of the ham, where much of the lean meat can be seen.
Pick the ham up. Sprinkle more salt on the paper. Set the ham down with the skin-side down. Massage salt, sugar and black pepper onto the meat side. Turn the ham back over.
Sprinkle more salt on the paper if needed. Make sure the ham is completely covered in salt. Wrap the ham in the paper. Secure the wrapping with masking tape.
Put the wrapped ham in a cloth sack or a pillowcase. Place the shank-side in first. Tie the top with twine, leaving plenty of extra twine for hanging.
Hang the covered ham, shank-side down, in a well-ventilated, temperature-controlled room. The temperature should stay around 4.44 degrees C. Allow the ham to cure for 10 days.
Open up the ham and brush off any loose salt from the ham and from the wrapping. Freshly season the ham the same as before and put the ham back in the wrapping and sack. Hang the ham and allow it to cure for 10 more days.
Open up the ham and brush off any loose salt from the ham and from the wrapping. Sprinkle it with an even coating of black pepper only. Use enough pepper to cover the entire ham. Put the ham back in the wrapping and sack. Replace the wrapping if necessary.
Put the ham back in the curing room and put it on a rack with the skin-side up. Allow the ham to cure for 12 months.
Unwrap the ham after curing and remove mould growth and by washing the ham with warm water, and gently scraping at the mould with a dry cloth or a cloth dampened with vinegar.