Many weeks ago while on my string of Spanish posts, discussions were hot and heavy on Jamon Serrano, and one of my readers asked what she could cook with extra Jamon Serrano. I thought it was best to eat it freshly cut as an appetizer or gnosh but it seems that there are quite a few dishes that cook with the ham. Particularly the harder or older segments of the ham which tend to get drier but have that terrific flavor nonetheless. Here is a perfect dish for a lazy Sunday mealâ€¦Lentejas a la Extremena or Lentil Soup with Jamon Serrano and White Wineâ€¦recipe from The Cuisines of Spain by Teresa Barrenechea, itâ€™s a wonderful cookbook by the way.
Rinse 1 generous cup of brown lentils and place in a colander. In a saucepan, combine lentils and cover with water (there whould be 2 inches of water above the lentils) and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat and simmer for about half an hour. Add a small whole head of garlic and continue to cook uncovered for another hour or until the lentils are very tender. About 20 minutes before you think the lentils will be ready, in a separate sautÃ© pan, heat about Â¼ cup of good Spanish olive oil and sautÃ© about 150 grams or more of finely cubed Jamon Serrano and one white onion, minced. After a few minutes, when the onion is translucent, add about Â½ a small can or slightly more of canned peeled tomatoes, chopped. Add 1 tablespoon of sweet paprika (essential) and Â½ cup of white wine. Add all of the contents of the sautÃ© pan to the lentils and stir to blend the flavors. Season with salt to your taste. Cook for another 5-10 minutes and extract the garlic before serving. Serve the soup with some good bread. Easy, hearty and delicious. A terrific way to use up some leftover Jamon Serrano if you happen to have it!