To the untrained eye and palate, a ham is just a ham—usually, one entire pig leg or shoulder, sliced into short, rectangular, paper-thin sheets. But with so many types of ham on the market, it can be difficult to know which is the best and why. When it comes to Spanish ham, knowledge is power.
As my car drove up a meandering, narrow road through a grove of oak trees near the village of Jabugo, Spain, an hour outside of Seville, I reminded myself to stay alert. It’s not every day you get to observe free-range pigs in their natural habitat, and I was determined not to miss them. I was there visiting one of the top Jamón Ibérico producers in Spain—a company called Cinco Jotas.