Carving ham may seem complicated, but it’s actually not. With just ten steps, you’ll be carving ham like a professional. So, the countdown shall now begin:
Start with the cushion, positioning the ham so the hoof is upwards. This will make it so the ham cushion is facing you and the fore cushion will be positioned downwards. The knuckle is located at the top of the piece, under the hoof. The rump face is the end of the ham opposite the hoof.
Hold the ham firmly on the ham stand. Make sure the ham doesn’t move and is at a height that allows you to carve comfortably. Are you ready? Let’s go...
Now, the knives come into play. Use the large knife to trace out the loin, circling it with the cutting edge of the knife. You should make a cut that’s perpendicular to the leg 2 centimetres below the bone protruding from the loin. It’s known as the hock.
After this, make a deep cut to the bone. Carve out a wedge-shaped portion about two fingers below the diagonal line. This makes it possible to begin tasting the knuckle after turning the ham to carve it along the fore cushion.
So far, so good?
Clear off the rind and yellow fat from the part you plan to carve. This will prevent a rancid flavour in the rashers you carve. Gradually removing the rind as you carve is recommended so the ham doesn’t dry out.
By the way, removing the rind doesn’t mean cutting of all the fatback covering the ham. Leave 1 to 2 cm of fatback “hugging” the ham and save two long slices of fatback to cover the carved area when you finish.
There is one correct direction which is the one marked by the ham axis. Using this as a reference, begin carving from the highest point on the piece. As you carve, you’ll get closer to the bone. Always carve with a steady hand, holding the knife firmly. Although it may not seem important, you should carve in a visually straight line.
So, what about the bones? As you carve the cushion, the first bone you’ll find is the hip which is at the end of the rasher. You must circle it with the short boning knife as closely as possible to the bone without cutting it. Be careful! If you cut the bone while carving, you’ll get splinters in the rasher. As you continue carving, you’ll hit the lower ham bone: the femur. Separate the lean pork from the protruding bony tip level with the bone. You should work around it with the knife blade. Avoid piercing the ham more than necessary or it will oxidize.
All good? There are only 3 steps left
With the hoof downwards, the surface still left for carving is known as the “fore cushion” or “rump end”. You must begin carving from the highest part on the ham parallel to the carving pattern on the cushion. Don’t forget to clear away the yellow fat and rind as needed.
As you start carving, you’ll find the bone from the ham rump on the face of the ham. You’ll see the stifle bone on the other side of the rasher. Circle them with the boning knife; you’ll get fine rashers and keep a straight carve. Rump end rashers are leaner and the edges are more consistent because it is more cured and there is less fatback protecting it. The bone surface will increase as you carve. Careful! When it’s difficult to get even rashers, stop carving.
Let’s finish up. When you can’t get any more even rashers out because the bones don’t allow you to continue carving in a straight line, you can (literally) slice the ham to get a few more. You can take advantage of the lean pork remaining on the ham for Iberico diced ham bits. The bones can be added to stews, soups and broths for more flavour. If you serrate the bones into the size of a fist, you can freeze them for use at another time. You know what they say... when it comes to a pig, NOTHING goes to waste!