My niece recently came back from a vacation, and brought back a little taste of Spain. 100 grams of pure heaven...
Jamon Iberico de Bellota, the iconic cured ham made from free range, acorn-fed Iberian pigs. The black-hoofed Iberian pig comes mostly from the south and southwest regions of Spain, which includes the province of Salamanca, home to Hermanos Hoyos, producers of traditional Iberian hams and meat products.
The Iberico label is only given to pork products using the local Iberian pig, differentiated by its unique black hoof.
Sliced paper thin, each bite releases a rich, savory, almost creamy and melt-in-your mouth flavor like no other. Unlike other hams, the saltiness is not predominant, in fact, it's really subtle, with a nice smooth and buttery texture that just lingers. And the light colored strips of fat, now that's the bomb...
After reaching a certain age, the Iberian pigs are allowed to roam the pastures and nearby oak groves, feeding on acorns and grass, giving it a richer flavor unlike processed pork fed mainly with commercial grains.
Coated with salt, the hams are air dried for at least 36 to 48 months, a lengthy curing process that give it a distinct flavor and mouth feel. The long curing process also give it a deep ruby red color unlike the more common light pink varieties which have a much shorter curing time.
Jamon Iberico is strictly regulated, and rightly so, only the best bears the Iberico label. At the end of the process, you get flavors that are subtle and delicate, and best enjoyed as is.
Pair it with a bottle of red wine, pop on some classic Spanish guitar tunes, and you're set. Spain's always been on my bucket list, and tasting this brings me one step closer.
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