A leg of jamón offers endless possibilities for some pretty spectacular leftovers. Not only can you carve away at those beautifully thin slices for your charcuterie boards, sandwiches, and breakfast toasts, but those hard to reach places also offer up an array of culinary possibilities and unique flavors. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
So if you have a leftover jamón from the holidays, or simply want tips on how to utilize every last bit of this prized leg, we’re here for you. Let’s dig into some of the best ways to take advantage of your leftover jamón, whether it’s after the holidays or any other time of year.
How to Use the Jamón Fat
When you start slicing your jamón, you’ll notice there are large strips of fat that are seemingly inedible. While you’ll use some of them to help protect the jamón and keep it from drying out, you can use other pieces in different ways. Just make sure you discard any of the dark or overly yellowed pieces. They are usually very tough and have a bitter, unpleasant flavor.
A common way to use the jamón fat is to throw it into your sofrito (that mixture of onions, garlic, and whatever else you’re using) when you make a stew or soup. This will release lots of tasty fat and flavor into the dish. When the soup is all finished, you simply remove the pieces of fat like you would a bay leaf and discard them.
You can also render the fat and use it to add big jamón flavor to your favorite snacks and dishes. To render the fat, you simply add a few pieces of fat to a skillet with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and cook on low until the fat slowly releases.
Use this jamón oil for frying eggs, drizzling over french fries and potato chips, topping a homemade jamón pizza, or for creating elegant tomato and garlic toasts. We also love to drizzle it over pasta and rice dishes.
How to Use Last Bits of Jamón (Taquitos)
Once you’ve sliced away at all the whole slivers of jamón, you’ll find that the ham leg still has a good amount of meat on it—it just isn’t thick enough or the proper shape to get the right balance of meat, marbling, and paper-thin texture you’re after.
But those hard to reach spots are full of flavor and possibilities. In Spain, we take a shorter, strong knife and cut away at those spots and chop them into small bites called taquitos. Those little ham bits are great additions to so many dishes, many of which are actually very traditional and easy to find on many tapas menus.
Croquettes with Jamón
One of the most common tapas you can make with leftover jamón are croquettes, or croquetas. Croquettes are made from a variety of leftover ingredients, from spinach to cheese to shredded chicken. But the most common (and definitely the best) is jamón. You essentially add the ham into your bechamel-like croqueta filling, form them, coat them in bread crumbs, and fry them to perfection.
Salmorejo and Jamón
In southern Spain, one of the best remedies for the summer heat is a chilled tomato dish called salmorejo. Although people may describe it as thick gazpacho at first glance, the nuances in the texture and flavor are different enough to set it apart.
You essentially take ripe, summertime tomatoes and blend them with garlic, bread, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt. What you get is a thick and creamy emulsion of Spanish flavor.
The best part? It’s traditionally topped with those tasty taquitos of jamón. Check out our recipe for salmorejo.
Eggs and Jamón
Egg dishes are an important part of the Spanish diet, though usually they are consumed at lunch and dinner. Add those ham bits to your scrambled eggs or mix them into a Spanish potato tortilla, quiche, or frittata. They’ll soften up and add superb little bursts of flavor to any egg dish.
There’s nothing like the earthy, nutty taste of 100% Jamón Ibérico de Bellota to liven up a vegetable dish. We can’t think of a vegetable that isn’t made better by a little Iberian ham love, but there are some traditional Spanish dishes that truly make it shine.
Artichokes, whether they are fresh and steamed, fried, or straight from the jar, work beautifully alongside jamón. Asparagus are also another classic combination. If you’re able to get your hands on a jar of specialty white asparagus from Spain, we definitely recommend adding a little jamón to them too.
Try out mushrooms of all kinds, summer squash, or even simple sauteed spinach and garlic with jamón taquitos.
To prepare vegetables with the jamón bits, sauté the vegetables in a pan and add the jamón right before everything is fully cooked. You just want to warm up the ham (even get it a touch crispy), but be careful not to burn it.
How to Use the Jamón Bone
One you’ve got down to the bare bones of the jamón, you’re left with, well, the bone. Though you may be inclined to throw it out, you can (and should) use the ham bone to make a rich and unique broth.
This broth can be used to cook rice for risotto and rice dishes, to steam veggies, or as a base for soups. We especially love to cook fresh peas and fava beans in jamón broth, and top them with an egg. Essentially, anywhere you would use beef or chicken broth is a great spot to test out your ham broth.
Before you make the broth, we recommend simmering the bones in a couple rounds of water first. This helps remove any impurities and excessive salt. You’ll see these white foamy impurities rise to the top as the bones boil. Simply skim them off and change out the water 2-3 times and then simmer your bones into broth with other ingredients like peppercorns and vegetable scraps.
Other Great Combos
Parmesan risotto cooked in jamón broth + jamón taquitos + jamón oil
Pasta cooked in jamón broth + jamón taquitos + jamón oil
Gnocchi + jamón taquitos + jamón oil
Baked sweet potato + jamón taquitos + jamón oil
Boiled potatoes in jamón broth + jamón oil
Homemade aioli + jamón oil
Potato salad + jamón taquitos
Goat cheese salad + jamón taquitos + jamón oil
Seared scallops + jamón taquitos + jamón oil
Clams with white wine + jamón taquitos
Salmorejo spread on toast + jamón taquitos
Lentils cooked in jamón broth + jamón taquitos
There are so many ways to use your leftover jamón, from the savory fat down to the flavor-packed bone. It’s amazing how much you can do with a single leg of jamón ibérico.
The more you experiment, the more you will get to know the beautiful nuances every part of the jamón leg offers; just when you think your jamón has nothing left, it gives you another fantastic recipe.
Get your hands on a 100% Jamón Ibérico de Bellota and experience these unique Spanish flavors for yourself.