Iberian Ham – A Spanish Delicacy
Iberian ham or pata negra is one of Spain’s most famous delicacies. It is as rare as it is expensive due to its lengthy and costly production process. Best eaten on its own as a tapa simply served in small, thin slices on a plate, the meat is deep red in colour and develops an intensely nutty flavor at room temperature, which is reminiscent of the acorns the pigs graze on throughout their lives. The Iberian pig can get by for long periods with little to eat, which cultivates the finely marbled meat and its melt-in-the-mouth texture. Because the pigs have been fed with acorns, you can also notice little white points that often occur throughout the ham.
The Iberian Pig
The most commonly accepted theory is that the first pigs were brought to the Iberian Peninsula by the Phoenicians from the Eastern Mediterranean coast, where they mated with wild boars. The ham from this species of pig is legendary, and as far back as the 16th century there was a market in Spain where 40,000 Iberian Pigs changed hands. Even back then the pata negra, the black trotter, was considered as a mark of the breed, and to this day the high-quality aromatic ham from the Iberian pig, jamon Iberico, is also known simply as pata negra.
Jamon Iberico: A Definitive Flavour
The Iberian Pig is always free range, roaming far and wide over its grazing areas and feeding on a diverse diet of grasses, herbs and roots. It also frequently eats olives, which gives the meat a lovely earthy aroma. It is a rare example in the world swine production where the pig contributes so decisively to the preservation of the
In the summer, when the Dehesa can become very arid, the pigs are also fed gain. The final fattening period starts in the fall when the acorns begin dropping from the trees. The Iberian pig now develops an astounding appetite and puts on about 130 to 175 pounds within a few months. The acorns are key to the special aromatic taste of the meat. It then has to be cured for at least 36 months.
Iberico ham is not easy to come by and only has recently been available for purchase within Canada. Only select delicatessens carry jamon iberico and they won't necessarily be near you. That is where Spanish Pig can help you, by visiting our jamon section, you will find all the delicious kinds of serrano and iberico hams you are looking for.