The Iberian pig is an animal of the porcine breed, the name also applies to varieties belonging to what is known as the “Iberian trunk”, which includes black and red, furry or hairless breeds. The Iberian pigs, predominant in the Iberian Peninsula shared between Spain and Portugal, are highly appreciated animals in the gastronomic sector as they produce the famous Iberian ham and different types of sausages. Black Iberian Pig For sale in USA at Kentucky Cattle Range. The Iberian pig The Iberian pig is a unique species with characteristics that differentiate it from other animals of the same species, such as the ability to infiltrate fat in the muscle. Physically speaking, these animals have a well-proportioned head and a pointed muzzle. Unlike other types of pigs, the Iberian has a powerful neck, a drooping dewlap, medium-sized ears in the form of a visor and a large belly. Its extremities, the ones we are most interested in when talking about ham, are thin.
The reason why it’s so prestigious is actually standing behind me. I don’t know if you can see, but there is some pigs behind me, and they are of this special breed called the black Iberian pigs. During their life, they feed mostly on acorns, which are very, very present in the Sierra here, and that’s what gives this ham such a special flavor. So, today, we’re going to visit a ham factory to learn more about how the actual ham is made, and then we’re going to talk about how it’s cut, how it’s served, and taste it to see why it is so special.
Black Iberian pigs descend from wild boars and have been considered a delicacy since long before our times. In the year 77, Roman writer Pliny the Elder praised their superior quality. In 1493, when he sailed across the Atlantic for the second time, Christopher Columbus had Iberian pigs aboard his caravels. The most expensive of them all sells for 4,100 euros, which is over $4,500. But despite the high price, this ham remains a local favorite.
Black Iberian pigs can be found in the southern and western regions of the Iberian Peninsula, which comprises Spain and Portugal. In Spain, Iberian ham production is confined to the provinces of Salamanca, Huelva, Córdoba, Cáceres, and Badajoz. Portugal also produces it under the name presunto Ibérico. Spanish Iberian ham is protected by the EU’s Protected Designation of Origin. The five Spanish provinces where it is produced are split into four different Protected Designations of Origin. Out of the total production of Iberian ham, only 6% comes with a black label, indicating it’s the 100% Iberian pure breed.
Iberico Cured Ham Classification
Not all Iberico pigs are created equal, though. Some are fed purely of acorn which makes it 100% Iberico. These are black label Iberian pigs and the only breed that you can call “pata negra” or black hoof. Pata Negra ham is the very best. Jamon Iberico De Bellota comes second. While this breed is also purely fed of acorns, they classify as red label as they are a cross-breed of black Iberian pigs with other more common pig breeds. The green label groups Iberico pigs that are fed with a combination of acorns and grain. While the lowest breed that is fed with only grain and aren’t free range are white label. You can buy specific parts of the Iberian pig fresh to enjoy in delectable dishes. While the Ibericus ham, specifically, is hung and dry cured for at least 24 months before they are ready to be consumed.
Features of Black Iberian Pig
Raw Iberico pork, or jamon iberico, almost looks like beef. Instead of the usual white pork meat, it is a bright red color. The flavor falls on a more complex spectrum of taste sharing the qualities of beef and pork in some cuts. Their diet and the environment plays an important role. An acorn-fed pure breed will taste intensely sweet and floral. But the most apparent taste, as you would already expect, comes from acorns which will be nutty as well as earthy. The taste is almost the same as having a slice of a mildly salty parmesan cheese. But the unique selling point here is not just the meat itself, but the fat. Forget the fats that we consciously trim away. The white flecks of fat that you’ll see in the lean cuts of this red meat is called marbling—a real sign of the meat’s quality. Because of this fat, this very fine Iberico ham becomes so soft that it melts right in your mouth.
Black Iberian Pig Price
$150.00 – $910.00