Our first real introduction to Spanish tapas was in Madrid. There were so many good tapas and good foods, but the one that left the biggest impression on me at the time was the one with the artichokes and Serrano ham, from The Taste Gallery. Madrid – Part 3- Los Comidas de Madrid. All the tapas we ate there were fabulous, and some I had already made and enjoyed here at home, long before even going to Spain. This one was new for me though and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Since I did not have the exact recipe (not that I would really follow it anyway), and I could not find all the ingredients, I made my own version. Larry and I were the only ones that could vouch for the Spanish version, and how good it was, but we all agreed that my version was very tasty as well.
I could not find the large artichokes that they used in Madrid, so I used canned artichoke hearts instead. These are my artichokes and Serrano ham tapas before I baked them in the oven. Since I was recreating a Spanish dish, I wanted all the ingredients to be from Spain as much as possible. I used Mitica Mahon cheese, which is a soft Spanish cheese and Serrano ham, also from Spain. Serrano ham is a type of ham that comes from the Serrano white pigs that are bred, raised and processed entirely in Spain. Only this type of white pigs are used if they want to be called Serrano hams. These pigs have innate genetic traits that give them a distinct texture and therefore a distinct taste that identifies them as Serrano. Once they are processed, they are then cured for about 2 years to add an even more unique quality to them, which allows for an outstanding taste and texture. Next time I make these, and believe me, there will definitely be a next time, I will be a lot more generous with the ham. I used it sparingly this time, and I decided we needed more.
Jeanne’s Artichoke and Serrano Ham Tapas
2 cans artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1 quarter red onion, diced fine
1 heaping TBSP garlic
2 TBSP butter
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 package Serrano ham
5-6 oz Spanish soft cheese, cubed
salt & pepper to taste
2 tomatoes, diced fine – any kind of tomatoes are fine – I used a variety of small tomatoes
Mix the breadcrumbs, onions, garlic and salt & pepper together and saute in butter for about 5 minutes or until the onions are cooked, and are soft and translucent.
Preheat oven to 350* F or 180* C.
Spray a baking dish with cooking spray, then evenly distribute the cooked breadcrumb mixture on the bottom of the baking dish. Slice the bottoms off the artichoke hearts to make them even so they can stand upright on the bottom. Place the artichoke hearts in the baking dish.
Cut the cheese into small cubes and place a small cube on the top of each artichoke heart. Spread the tomato pieces around through the dish. Add some of the Serrano ham on top of each artichoke. Drizzle olive oil over the dish, making sure to cover each piece. Bake for about 15 minutes or until all the cheese is melted. Do NOT over bake or the delicate ham will burn.
!Desfruitas! Enjoy as part of your tapas menu, with a glass or two of your favorite wine and with friends or family. If you are going to enjoy tapas, then you have to do it proper fashion and embrace the art of the tapeo. Tapas in Spain/Tapas at Home – Part 1