When the time comes to buy a Pata Negra ham for Christmas, whether as a gift or for a special celebration, this is one of the most common doubts people have about choosing the ham ( “”Jamón””) or the ham shoulder (“”Paleta, Paletilla””). Read on to learn the differences between the two knuckles and to find out if it’s better to buy Pata Negra ham or Pata Negra ham shoulder.
Ham and shoulder, similar but not identical
For those who are not familiar with the world of Iberian ham, the differences between one piece and the other may seem small, since both pieces are made using a very similar process . However, for experts and lovers of this delicacy, the differences between ham and ham shoulder are significant. It is important to take these differences into account in order to make an informed purchasing decision based on our tastes and preferences.
Differences in weight and size
This is one of the main differences between Iberian ham shoulder and Iberian ham, as the front legs (shoulders) are slightly smaller than the back legs (ham). Usually a ham is between 70-90 cm long while a shoulder is between 60-75 cm long. The shoulder is also wider and contains less meat than the ham. For this reason we can say that about 45% of a whole ham and 35% of a shoulder is used for consumption, including the bone.
Differences in taste
Flavour, aroma and texture, what we commonly refer to as organoleptic properties, are the main differences to consider when considering whether to buy Pata Negra ham or ham shoulder. Many experts believe that the shoulder tastes better, partly because of the higher fat content that makes it juicier, but also because of the shorter curing time.
On the other hand, the Iberian ham that develops has a longer maturation period, more aromas and nuances and is more rounded in taste than the ham shoulder.
Buy Pata Negra ham or ham shoulder?
What so far explained here are factors to consider, but they tend to depend on the tastes of each individual. Apart from the differences described above, you are probably thinking of the price differences between Pata Negra ham and Pata Negra ham shoulder. Ham will always be more expensive, partly because it requires a much longer curing period.
We recommend buying Pata Negra shoulder (“paleta”) only if it is in a will be eaten quickly, as it dries out much faster after cutting due to its lower meat content. On the other hand, for gastronomy or for people who want to consume the ham over a longer period of time, it is advisable to buy Pata Negra ham, as it has a higher percentage of meat.
But you can also Buy small, hand-cut packets of Pata Negra ham and Pata Negra shoulder ham, so you can compare and decide for yourself which product you like better, without having to buy a whole piece and without knowing how to cut ham optimally.