We’ve already showcased French cheeses this month, and now we’re moving to another deli favourite – cured ham. Europe has a proud tradition of charcuterie and fine cured meats. We all love prosciutto and jamon and Bayonne ham is the wonderful French version. Taking its name from the city in the South West of France, Bayonne as a region is famous for its it’s Basque traditions.
Using typically European but also very old Basque traditions to cure and age the hams gives them a wonderful flavour and texture. During the curing process espelette pepper is rubbed into the skin giving it a slight heat and rosy colour. A flour and fat mix is used to seal the joint areas of the leg so the curing process can be slowed down in warmer months. Minimum aging of seven months mellows the flavours of the carefully reared pigs from the Adour basin. Strict regulation governs both the production as well as the pigs themselves as every leg has to be produced from one of eight clearly defined breeds of pig reared in an area from Deux Sèvres in the north to Aveyron and the Aude.
Bayonne has become another option for cured meat lovers to try and we do have to admit that alongside some of our favourite Basque produced cheeses such as the beautifully elegant Onetik Ossau Iraty, the Bayonne Ham is a perfect match.