The first time we attempted these was in our apartment in Phoenix. I had never heard of a San Jacobo and had no idea what we were trying to make. Jorge said his mom always made them for the family when they were kids and that they were delicious! Let’s just say that our first little experiment with these guys wasn’t a home run, but after watching his mom actually make them in the kitchen, now they’re a piece of cake!!
So I’d say the most important ingredient you need to ensure that these guys turn out delicious is high quality, thin slices of ham and cheese. You also need breadcrumbs, which I have no idea if you can buy already packaged in the States, but here you can buy a bag of breadcrumbs either seasoned with parsley and garlic or just plain. When making San Jacobos, I prefer to use the garlic & parsley breadcrumbs. If you’re making your own breadcrumbs, you can add your preferred spices when you make them.
So let’s get to it!
This recipe for San Jacobos should serve 4 people (2 wraps each).
8 thin slices of good quality deli ham
8 thin slices of creamy Havarti or other light, white cheese
2 cups of breadcrumbs, homemade or store-bought (if you’d like to add spices, I prefer garlic salt and dried parsley)
2 cups of flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (We prefer to fry with extra virgin olive oil because we buy a special type, Arbequina, which is said to have special properties that make it able to fry at higher temperatures without loosing its nutrient value. And, because it’s produced right around the corner (northeastern Spain), it’s not too outrageously expensive either!)
Separate out your ham and cheese so it is easy to build your wraps. I know I’ve said this many times now, but do ensure that you have good quality deli meats & cheeses. It will really make all the difference! I am so lucky to have found an amazing charcutería – a small store in the central plaza that specializes in meats & cheeses. My deli man always delivers when it comes to quality product!
Using a large plate, take one slice of ham and place it in the center. Take your cheese and either fold or cut in half, long ways, and place to the right on top of the ham leaving about and inch of ham to fold over (see photo). This helps the wrap to stay in place when frying, as well as keep the melting cheese inside of your wrap instead of oozing into your hot oil. Fold over flap and continue to wrap until you’ve made a rectangle. Repeat with each slice of ham.
Now that you’ve got your rectangles, you can move on to the next step.
Cut two rectangular pieces of foil (it really helps to make an easy cleanup!). On one piece of foil place your flour and on the other place your breadcrumbs. Also, beat the egg. Make sure that your bowl has a flat base large enough that the wraps can lay flat in the bottom of the bowl. I like to set up a little ‘breading station’ as you see below to make the process a bit more organized.
Now it gets a little messy…
Once you’ve breaded 2 or 3, you can begin to heat your oil on the stove. Depending on how large your pan is, you may have to add/reduce amount of oil. You should use enough oil that your wraps are submersed half way in the oil. I use a smaller pan, just frying two wraps at a time, so I don’t have to use as much oil. If you start to see as you go on cooking that you are short on oil, you can always add more. Before you add the wraps, be sure the oil is nice and hot. When you add the wraps the oil should begin to bubble around the sides. Be extremely carful with this step as the oil will have a tendency to splatter. Reduce to medium-high heat as wraps cook.
As your wraps begin to fry, time about 1-2 minutes in the pan, or until golden brown. The time will depend mostly on how hot your oil is. You don’t want it too hot because you don’t want the wraps to burn, but you also don’t want them sitting and absorbing excess oil either.
Once wraps are golden brown on each side, set aside another large place with 2-3 paper towels on the plate to absorb the oil. As you continue to fry, add 2-3 pieces of paper towel on top of every 2-3 wraps to efficiently soak up the oil.
Serve hot so they are nice and crunchy! Enjoy! I like to serve with a nice, fresh salad to complement the fried goodies!