While at a Food Festival in the UK, I met an importer of Jamon Serrano and Jamon Iberico, its fancier, and more expensive cousin. Both hams are salt-cured first, for a few weeks to draw out mostiure and then washed and hung to dry, the cheaper ones for about 6 months and the more expensive for up to 2 years.
The difference between the two hams is the type of pig, Serrano is litterally "mountain ham" and are from a breed of white pig called Landrace, while Jamon Iberico breaks down into a few catagories (helpfully provided from Wiki); though I suppose there is no accounting for taste, because I actually like the cheap stuff better, scandalous.
- Jamón Iberico de Bellota: Free-range, acorn-fed Iberian pigs
- Jamón Iberico de Recebo: Acorn, pasture and compound-fed Iberian pigs
- Jamón Iberico de Campo: (Sometimes just Jamón Iberico in short and also known as Jamón de Pata Negra). Compound-fed Iberian pigs. Pata negra (literally black hoof), which only accounts for about five percent of total ham production, is made from the Black Iberian Pig (cerdo ibérico). The best varieties of pata negra are range fed and fattened on acorns in cork oak groves along the southern border between Spain and Portugal. (see the two subcategories above)
This version is made with onions, garlic, saffron, a variety of seafood, short-grain rice, some veggies, and fish stock, and if you look at the next picture you can see all that remained after I got my hands on it.