This post is sponsored by The Bayonne Ham Council.
Rising interest in snacking and gourmet foods have been driving US appetites for charcuterie, and cured meats are now a common sight at restaurants across the country. For a truly standout charcuterie plate, some eateries are offering house-cured meats and specialty imports, including Bayonne ham.
Also known as Jambon de Bayonne, the cured ham recently became available in the US when the Food and Drug Administration approved it for sale in 2015. While it’s a relatively new arrival to US shores, the ham has a long history in France, where it has been produced in the same manner for more than 1,000 years.
Bayonne ham can only be produced in the Southwest of France in the Adour Basin, which lays between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees mountains. Producers take the utmost care and adhere to very strict standards that govern everything from where the pigs are bred to where the salt used in the curing process is sourced. These stringent rules make Bayonne Ham a truly unique product that can’t be replicated. To keep imposters off the market, the European Union granted Bayonne ham European Protected Geographical Indication status in 1998. It was France’s first food product to be awarded the title, which protects other European foods and beverages such as Munchener Bier.
Its PGI status guarantees Bayonne ham’s quality, origins and transparency, which are important considerations for many US consumers. Food sources and production are the two most important factors to diners when selecting a restaurant, according to the 2018 Food and Health Survey conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation. In fact, 73% of American consumers are willing to pay more for a product when the brand is being transparent, Label Insight’s 2016 Transparent ROI Study found.
Transparency and quality aside, many US chefs choose to put Bayonne Ham on the menu for its delicious taste.
“The harmonious union between the freshest meat and natural salt gives Bayonne Ham a truly unique and distinguishing flavor, sweet with a creamy finish,” said Bayonne Ham Council US Brand Ambassador Florane Gambert-Jouan.
More than two dozen US restaurants feature Bayonne ham on their menus, including Lechosho in Seattle, Bask in San Francisco and Frenchette and Le Singe in New York City. At the latter, Bayonne ham stars on a charcuterie board alongside prosciutto de canard, rosette de Lyon, pate, cornichons, cipollini onions and nicoise olives.
In addition to charcuterie plates, Bayonne ham’s tender, melt-in-the-mouth texture also shines in cooked dishes such as a croque madame or sprinkled over eggs Benedict. Beyond French cuisine, Bayonne ham can stand in for bacon in a range of dishes, including as a topping for pizza.
No matter how it’s served, Bayonne ham is a natural for pairing with beverages. Some notable brands currently available in the US include Maison Agour, Delpeyrat, Mayte, Salaisons de l’Adour and Pierre Oteiza.
“Paired with food or on its own, Bayonne ham is amazing with white or red wine,” Gambert-Jouan said.
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