As soon as you taste traditional European serrano ham for the very first time, it’s hard to ever go back to the standard version of pork ham meat, especially considering that serrano ham has a much deeper flavor, along with being a lot more firm and consistent in its texture which many people compare to pan-cooked bacon.
Serrano ham is definitely a unique ingredient, and its popularity has gradually started spreading outside of Europe and is slowly becoming more recognized and beloved by the entire world, but does this mean that there are any alternatives?
The quick and honest answer is yes, there are definitely other ingredients that have a very similar flavor and texture to serrano ham, so if you’ve run out of slices and want to try something similar but still a little different in either its taste or texture, consider trying out some of these deliciously meaty substitutes.
1. Prosciutto Cotto
This cured ham comes from pork leg meat, just the same as prosciutto ham, but it also has a much milder flavor which is more comparable to the rich and meaty taste of serrano ham.
The texture is also very similar to serrano ham, being fairly firm but still easy enough to tear apart, which is a big reason why it’s often served with cheese to make it a little more creamy and even more delightful on the tastebuds.
You’re also getting a ton of nutritional benefits when mixing in prosciutto cotto with a recipe, with it being packed full of B vitamins, iron, zinc, and calcium.
2. Black Forest Ham
If you’re looking for an alternative to serrano ham that still retains that firm texture but is a little smokier in its flavor so you can use it as part of a barbeque or a delightful breakfast option, you’re not going to want to pass up on black forest ham.
The most popular way to prepare black forest ham is by smoking it, but if you really want to ramp up the taste so that the rich and delicate underlying flavor can bubble up to the surface, you should definitely add a hint of garlic, salt, coriander, and a few extra spices of your choice beforehand.
Additionally, black forest ham is very rich in protein levels, however, because it is cured in salt, the sodium levels are also high, so keep this in mind if you decide to use it in a recipe.
This popular traditional Italian meat is very similar to prosciutto ham, but the biggest difference is how much more dense speck is in its texture, along with it having a much deeper and more savory taste that can actually be a little overwhelming if eaten in large quantities.
Many people will therefore pair light and refreshing ingredients with speck, such as veggies, fruit, and bay leaves, to help alleviate that taste just a little bit and make it a little more manageable to eat and digest.
Horseradish and mustard are commonly spread over the top of speck slices, and it is usually served in a bread roll, making this meat a fantastic option for preparing party food or a delightful snack to pass around the table at a family dinner.
4. Iberico Ham
Iberico ham comes from the hind legs of Black Spanish Iberico pigs, and it is most well known for having a herby flavor that actually tastes closer to the taste of mushrooms than anything else.
The key to making Iberico ham as tasty and flavorful as possible is curing it for several years, so make sure to check how long it has been preserved, especially if you’re using it as the main meat of a big and hearty meal for you and a few friends or members of the family to enjoy.
Iberico ham has the same vitamins, calories, and fats as serrano ham, so while it is slightly different in taste, it’s still going to provide you with all the nutritional properties that serrano ham is so beloved for.
5. Bayonne Ham
Coming from the thighs of a pig, Bayonne ham is known for being a lot more neutral in flavor and far less spicy than most other types of cured ham, instead, it has a delightfully sweet tang to it, making it perfect to use for both breakfast and as an afternoon dinner option.
Traditionally, it has been served along with bread and crackers, however, if you or somebody you know has a sweet tooth, then you’re going to want to pair it up with coleslaw, fresh melons, or any ingredients which can complement the sweetness and make for an elegantly refreshing meal that goes down so well when the temperatures are starting to rise in the summertime.
If you do choose to serve Bayonne ham as part of a delightful breakfast, it’s usually best paired up with a poached egg and some creamy sheep’s milk to make the overall texture a little softer than you can expect when eating serrano ham.
6. Pancetta Pork Belly
Pancetta pork belly is instantly recognizable for its rolled and flat appearance, which makes it perfect for serving in wraps, or even as a wrap itself if you insert some veggies or stuffing into the middle.
There are so many different ways you can approach this, whether you insert some apples and onions in the middle to create a crunchy salad, or you wrap the ham around some pasta and stews to make a filling and delicious snack to enjoy on your break, the options really are endless, and it’s all down to your imagination in regards to what you can create using pancetta pork belly meat.
With that being said, rather than falling apart the moment you bite into it, pancetta pork belly is actually fairly firm with a hint of smokiness to its flavor, which is why it is often compared to serrano ham, so if you are in the mood for creating a few smaller snacks but still want to carry over that familiar aroma and taste, pancetta pork belly is the way to go.
Capocollo does admittedly have a higher fat and calorie content compared to serrano ham, but with that being said, it still borrows the chewy and slightly crunchy texture of serrano ham, while also being a lot juicier once you bite into it.
Therefore, when you’re cooking capocollo ham, you’re going to be adding more natural fats to your dish which can help all the ingredients involved taste a lot more savory and juicier in their taste, so it is a good option to use when you’re preparing a big feast for multiple people to enjoy, rather than as part of a solo meal or a quick snack.
Whether you’re looking for a meat alternative that’s a little sweeter in flavor, softer in texture, or simply just smaller in stature so that you can use it much easier to create a few snacks for you and the family to enjoy, there are plenty of alternatives to serrano ham which are just as tasty and fulfilling and contain many of the same nutritional benefits.
7 Of The Most Delicious Substitutes For Serrano HamCourse: Substitutes
Black Forest Ham
Pancetta Pork Belly
- Decide on what substitute you need
- Pick a substitute from the list above
- Read what you need to substitute with
- Create the recipe and enjoy
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