Behind the French Menu: Jambon Sec (Cru)


Hams  on sale.



Hams in France

French cured ham comes from the higher a part of the rear legs of a pig, and two sorts of ham could also be on French restaurant menus. The primary kind of ham and the topic of this put up is Jambon Sec (additionally referred to as Jambon Cru), air-cured(air-dried) ham. The second kind of ham is wet-cured ham and which may be cooked once more. Moist-cured ham contains the ham utilized in ham sandwiches, referred to as jambon blanc, white ham, or jambon de Paris, Parisian ham; different names embrace jambon supérieurJambon sec is named dry-cured ham within the UK and nation ham in elements of the USA.

(N.B. In America’s south nation ham is ready otherwise). The Italian phrase ‘prosciutto” can also be typically seen on menus within the English-speaking world for air-cured ham. Although, to be correct, the right Italian title for jambon sec (cru), air-cured ham is prosciutto crudo

Sliced jambon sec
Photograph courtesy of Marco Verch
Jambon Sec, Jambon Cru, the dry
cured hams.

Utilizing a French-English dictionary phrase by phrase, jambon sec might translate as dry ham whereas jambon cru might translate as uncooked ham. Nevertheless, jambon sec (cru) is neither dry nor uncooked; it would have been cured by salting, flavoring with herbs, and air-drying (curing). Some hams are smoked after which air-cured, and jambon sec could also be air-cured from three months to over two years. Most cured hams want no additional cooking, actually, cooking would destroy their style and texture. 

A curedham sandwich
Photograph courtesy of _BuBBy_
The historical past of curing hams

When curing ham started, we can’t be positive. Nevertheless, we all know from the recipe books of the Romans and Greeks that they have been already preserving ham with salt, herbs, and vinegar, in addition to air drying and smoking three thousand years in the past. 

The flavors of cured ha

The variations in style amongst cured hams come from how the pig was fed, what it ate when freely roaming, the pig’s breed, how the ham is ready, and the way lengthy the ham is hung. To the meat’s pure style, whereas curing, will likely be added salt, herbs, spices, berries, and eau-de-vies. Every kind of cured ham has a really particular style and texture; educated French diners look on the menu for the ham along with his or her most well-liked taste and texture.

The distinctive IGP or AOP hams

Many hams are distinctive, and why they could be wonderful, just like the Jambon Sec Prisuttu de Corse AOP, from Corsica, are solely hardly ever seen on restaurant menus. With restricted manufacturing and or distribution, these hams won’t be a part of the listing under. If you’re touring in France and see a distinct ham on a menu, ask about it and contemplate attempting it. 

N.B. Hams which were cured for six months or extra won’t be a part of cooked dishes and can solely be served chilly or added to a cooked dish on the final minute. The distinctive taste and texture of air-cured hams, like that of fine olive oil, will disappear when cooked. 

Every of the ten hams on this put up holds a definite restaurant menu share and a specific purpose for its fame. The hams on this put up are in alphabetic order, with one exception. Jambon de Bayonne stands head and shoulders above the others, and for that purpose is awarded first place on this listing.

The ten hottest air-cured hams on French restaurant menus:

No: 1. Jambon de Bayonne IGP.


Jambon de Bayonne is the preferred air-cured ham in France; it accounts for almost 40% of the hams on restaurant menus. Solely eight breeds of pigs could also be used, with a lot of the ham coming from the pied-noir Basque pig. These pigs are allowed to roam free within the forests and hills, and within the winter, they’ve picket shelters that preserve out the chilly. The pigs eat acorns, and chestnuts they discover and are additionally fed pure cereals for a balanced eating regimen. Bayonne ham is salt-cured for ten days, then air-cured for no less than seven months; one of the best Bayonne hams will likely be air-dried for 12 months or longer.


Bayonne ham with pickled wild mushrooms.
Photograph courtesy of Brett

To confirm the true Jambon de Bayonne, it isn’t sufficient to have a ham that got here from any pig round Bayonne or different licensed areas. The pigs is probably not handled with development hormones or antibiotics, and the piglets should be raised by their moms. With its fame and style, the demand for Bayonne ham is immense, and that signifies that a lot of the Bayonne ham comes from farms which are hours away from Bayonne.     


Jambon de Bayonne on wheels.
Bayonne ham will be on sale at almost each farmer’s market.
Photograph courtesy of a_marga


Regardless of the amount produced, the standard and the controls for this ham haven’t modified. There will be not more than 40 pigs in every hectare (2.4 acres), and the meals the pigs eat and the way they’re raised stay the identical.

The Basque cross on Bayonne ham.
The cross is an previous Celtic mythological image.


All piglets that can have their ham bought as Jambon de Bayonne are tattooed after beginning and their ham will likely be stamped with a Croix Basque, the Basque Cross, under the clearly written title Bayonne. Bayonne ham is identifiable all the best way from the farm to the Charcuterie-Traiteur or restaurant the place it’s bought.


The place is Bayonne?


Bayonne is an inland port metropolis set on the River Adour 8 km (5 miles) from the Atlantic and about 30 km (19 miles) from the Spanish border. Bayonne is within the division of Pyrénées-Atlantiques within the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. Bayonne can also be the cultural middle of the Pay Basque and in case you are within the space, get pleasure from Basque cuisine and their ham, in its house base.


N.B. In Bayonne, there’s one non-culinary expertise that shouldn’t be missed. That’s the high-speed Basque ball recreation of Zesta punta (additionally referred to as Cesta punta and Jai Alai), it’s superb. The Basques introduced this recreation to Spain, Mexico, the USA, the Philippines, and elsewhere. In Bayonne you might also guess on the video games…. I all the time misplaced. For extra about Zesta-punta and the Basque nation, see their English language web site.


If you’re visiting the Pays Basque across the time of the Easter holidays, contemplate taking a day to get pleasure from Bayonne’s Foire au Jambon, their ham truthful. It is a long-established truthful that the organizer’s declare was first held in 1426. The official date is from the Thursday earlier than Easter by the next Wednesday. Examine  what’s occurring in Bayonne and the dates of this 12 months’s Easter Honest with the official Bayonne Tourism Workplace English language web site:


Jambon de Bayonne on the menu:


Asperges Vertes Poêlées, Anguille Fumée, Jambon de Bayonne et  Parmesan –  Green asparagus calmly fried, accompanied by smoked eel, Bayonne ham, and Parmesan cheese.


Salade Verte, Pommes de Terre, Lardons, Tomates, Jambon de Bayonne, Magret Fumé – A green salad with potatoes, bacon pieces, tomatoes, Bayonne ham and smoked duck breast.


Jambon de Luxeuil


Jambon de Luxeuil or Jambon de Luxeuil Les Bains is marinated in salt, wine, and juniper berries  After one month, the ham is lightly-smoked and the air-dried for no less than seven to 9 months. Luxeuil-les-Bains is near the city of Fougerolles, the place they make a few of France’s most interesting kirsch liqueur. Fougerollse can also be the city the place Jean Valjean was caught stealing bread within the e-book Les Miserables.

Jambon de Luxeuil on a French menu:


Jambon de Luxeuil à l’Os, Saucisse de Morteau IGP, Comté et Salade – The cured ham of Luxeuil, on the bone, served with the Sausage of Morteau IGP, a novel domestically smoked sausage. Right here it’s served together with Comte cheese and a salad


Chiffonade de Jambon de Luxeuil Et Griottines de Fougerolles – Chiffonade interprets as rags; nonetheless, in your menu this will likely be thinly-sliced  Luxeuil ham, served with the sour cherries from the city of Fourgerolles.


Photograph courtesy of France-Voyage


The place is the city of Luxeuil-les-Bains?


The spa city of Luxeuil-les-Bains is within the north of the division of Haute-Saône, within the Franche-Comte a part of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region.  Luxeuil-les-Bains is simply 10 km (6 miles) from Fougerolles.


The English-language web site of the Workplace de Tourisme de Luxeuil-les-Bains:  



Jambon de Parme (Palma, Italy).


Jambon de Parme (Palma)– That is the Italian Prosciutto Crudo di Parma IGP, and is as extremely rated in France as it’s in Italy. The ham is salted for over one month after which cured for 12 months or longer. Parma, the town, is within the Italian province of Emelia-Romagna equally well-known for its Parmigiano- Reggiano, Parmesan cheese.


Parma ham.

Photograph courtesy of Udo Schröter


Jambon de San Daniele  

Jambon de San Daniele or Prosciutto Crudo di San Daniele IGP, is taken into account by many to be just like Parma ham; nonetheless, it isn’t. This ham makes use of sea salt for the salting course of and is cured for no less than 13 months. The producers, declare the ham’s distinctive style is the results of the microclimate the place the ham is aged. The small city of San Daniele de Friuli is 80 km (50 miles) from Venice.

Bruschetta of Raisin Bread, San Daniele Ham

and Saffron Goat Cheese.

Photograph courtesy of Citterio


Jambon de Savoie


Jambon de la Savoie is an air-cured, often boneless, ham made in each Savoie (Savoy) departments within the Rhône-Alpes a part of the area of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. The ham is salted and steamed earlier than being air-cured for no less than 9 months.


Through the curing course of, the salt is utilized to the hams by hand, in accordance with the standard recipe. The growing old lasts a minimal of 12 months and takes place in Alpine curing sheds at an altitude of over 650 m (2,100 toes).


The Savoie hams could also be smoked.


Savoie hams can also be smoked over beech wooden. The smoking leads to a extra strong tasting ham than most others on this listing.


What else is there within the two Savoie departments?


Aside from its ham the Savoie is legendary for a number of the finest cheeses of France, together with Abondance AOPBeaufort AOPReblochon AOP, Tomme des Bauges IGP, Chevrotin AOP and the Tomme de Savoie IGP. Aside from cheese, ham, and wine, the Savoie departments have a number of the finest snowboarding in France.


The place is the Savoie (Savoy)?


The 2 departments of the Savoie are within the Rhône-Alpes a part of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes area. Haute-Savoie borders each Switzerland and Italy and contains the French a part of the Mont Blanc mountain together with the tunnel to Italy. The division of Savoie borders Italy.


Jambon de Vendée IGP


Jambon de Vendée IGP is a cured and boneless smoked ham. The ham is rubbed with herbs and sea salt from the Atlantic Island of Noirmoutier off the division of Vendee’s Atlantic coast. The island of Noirmoutier is reached by a bridge from near the small city of La Barre de Monts. Noirmoutier is a really stylish French vacation resort and equally well-known for its fish, oysters, and mussels.


The flavour of Vendée ham.


The herbs, spices, and flavors embrace cinnamonthymebay leaves, and an alcoholic eau-de vie. With the local weather of Vendée making drying tough, this can be a pressed ham that permits for a shortened drying time of three to 4 months. After drying, this ham could also be smoked with a course of that creates a style claimed by some to be akin to Canadian Bacon. Vendée is a tasty and completely different ham, however by no means having tasted Canadian Bacon, I can not affirm the similarities. On my subsequent go to to Canada, I’ll verify this out.


Plage Normoutier in Vendee

{Photograph} courtesy of Huges


The place is Vendée


Vendée is probably the most western of the departments within the Pays de la Loire area and is on the Atlantic coast. Vendée is legendary for its delicacies and traditionally well-known for its politics; nonetheless, this isn’t a weblog about politics. In Vendée, other than their famend ham, anticipate menus with recent fish and shellfish, their Label Rouge, purple label, ducks, chickens, quail, and guinea-fowl from Challans. Moreover, contemplate their distinctive Label Rouge Brioche de Vendée made with added crème fraiche and orange zest. (For extra about Brioche and different French breads, click here) The Vendée additionally has many wonderful native cheeses with domestically produced butters and creme fraiche that round-up their superb milk merchandise. Vendee with almost 200 km (125 miles ) of shoreline could be very standard among the many French for summer season holidays; so for those who’re planning to remain in there’s a lodge throughout July and August e-book a 12 months forward!


Vendée’s ham on French menus:


Salade de Jambon de Vendée et Poires – A salad of Vendée ham and pears.


Tarte Nice aux Figues, Jambon de Vendée et Son Sorbet de Melon – A skinny disk of puff pastry baked with figs and served chilly accompanied by Vendée ham and a melon sorbet.


Jambon des Aldudes


Jambon des Aldudes is an air-dried ham produced from the Aldudes Basque pig introduced again from near extinction.  This ham is salt cured and when matured the ham has a deep purple coloration from the chestnuts the pigs eat and a novel style.



Free vary Basque pig and piglets within the Aldudes.

Photograph courtesy of  France-Voyage


The place are the Aludes?


The commune of Aldudes within the division of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, in Nouvelle Aquitaine. It’s near the border with Spain. This is similar French division that features Bayonne and its personal well-known ham and Jambon de Kintoa AOP. Aside from ham Ossau-Iraty AOP cheese is produced right here. It’s considered one of solely two sheep’s cheeses which have AOP scores. (The opposite cheese is Roquefort AOP).


Jambon du Morvan


Jambon du Morvan or Jambon Sec du Morvan is a cured ham from the Morvan within the Bourgogne, Burgundy a part of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region. This ham is cured in a salt-crust for 4 weeks after which hung for no less than six months earlier than being bought. The ham is made across the small city of Château-Chinon, which is ready within the Morvan Nationwide Park. From private expertise, the park is a stunning place to drive by, cease and dine, or simply get out and wander.


Jambon de Morvan on French menus:


Jambon Persille de Morvan. – Jambon persillé is a sliced ham and garlic and parsley dish served in a wine flavored beef or veal-based aspic.

Jambon Persillé du Morvan

Photograph courtesy of MorvanDrive


The French-language web site of the Nationwide Park of Morvan:


The place is Morvan?


Morvan is within the division of Cote d’Or in Burgundy. The Cote d’Or can also be well-known for its purple wines that embrace Gevrey-Chambertin, Meursault and Chassagne-Montrachet. The division of Cote d’Or additionally produces a big a part of the areas glowing Crémant de Bourgogne.


Jambon Fumé du Haut-Doubs


Jambon Fumé du Haut-Doubs is a smoked and cured ham from the mountains within the division of Doubs within the area of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté. These hams are smoked in home of native resident’s with their well-known chimneys referred to as tuyés. The entire space, which incorporates the Jura, can also be famend for its many wines, meat merchandise and cheeses, together with Comté AOP cheese, amongst many others. The identical space produces wines and liquors that embrace the glowing white Crémant du Jura AOC



Photograph courtesy[of Thomas



The place is Haut Doubs?


Haute-Doubs is within the division of Doubs within the France-Comte a part of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté area bordering Switzerland. The prefecture, the departmental capital, is the city of Besançon. Besançon was as soon as the house of France’s watchmaking trade, competing with Switzerland for one of the best watches on the earth. Go to its fascinating watch museum.


Jambon Noir de Bigorre – Porc Noir de Bigorre


Jambon (Porc) Noir de Bigorre comes from the Porc Noir de Gascon AOP, the black Gascony pig. This ham is salt-cured and hung for no less than 20 months earlier than being bought. The ham has an intense purple coloration and a candy style. After being hung for 20 months, the ham virtually melts in your mouth; a few of this ham is aged for 36 months. This ham is produced within the Hautes-Pyrenees and is without doubt one of the few hams supported by the Gradual Meals Motion.


Jambon Noir de Bigorre on French Menus :


Assiette de Charcuterie : Jambon de Porc Noir de Bigorre, Rillettes des d’Oie, Saucisson Sec, Pate de Campagne  – A plate of Jambon Noir de Bigorre served with goose rilllettes. (Goose rillettes are goose meat that can have been slowly cooked in fats till the meat will be made right into a paste to unfold on toast or bread). Right here the ham is served alongside the rillettes, a small salami-type sausage, and a country pate.


Jambon Cru (Sec) de Pays

A ham outdoors of the ten hottest hams however nonetheless on many menus

Jambon Cru de Pays signifies a domestically cured ham. If the ham is native, then the higher menus will clearly state its origins even when it isn’t nationally well-known. The issue is that the title is generic and could also be seen in supermarkets the place any mass-produced cured ham could also be bought as Jambon Cru de Pays. Until the place the ham in your menu comes from, it would a mass-produced ham. The issue with nameless hams are the coloring brokers, and artificial flavors which may be added together with tastes that change by producer.

N.B. Not every little thing marked jambon comes from pigs.

As in different nations, chicken, duck, and goose which are smoked in the same method to ham could also be on the menu; although none of them are aged like ham. In France, within the USA, the UK, and elsewhere, some non-pork merchandise, particularly poultry, might have the title ham added to them. Within the USA, turkey ham is an instance. In France, jambon d’oie is smoked goose, and that interprets as goose ham. Jambon de canard is smoked duck, duck ham, jambon de magret is smoked duck breast or goose breast, and jambon de dinde is French turkey ham. (French turkey ham tastes very otherwise to the American turkey ham). 

Search for the outline on the menu or ask; in a grocery store, verify the label. These poultry merchandise will be tasty as they may have been smoked in a way just like ham and might have a barely comparable style. That explains the title of duck ham and so forth. Moreover, these with non secular sensibilities to pork use these poultry hams in recipes that might in any other case require cured ham.

Magrets d’Oie du Perigord
Goose breast from Perigord.
Photograph courtesy of foie-gras-sarlat.


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Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman

Copyright 2010, 2015, 2021


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