Monday, July 9, 2012

Pata Negra, Jamón en España !

Becky and I had heard about the wonderful ham products in Spain. So needless to say we made a beeline into a Museo del Jamón when we saw the hams hanging in the window. Pata Negra means “black hoof”.

When you go into a Spanish deli like this, you will see the hoofs still on the hams. This is an indication of quality. Now for us Americans that usually by meet in a plastic wrapped package, hang in there. This is the way hams are presented and our forefathers did the same in their smokehouses. We’ve just gotten tenderized by our supermarkets.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

(Hmm…will these fit into my suitcase?)

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Which to choose? Which to choose?

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

We went for the Ibérico Extra. But how much to get?

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Our deli man suggested 100 grams, which gave us a generous tasting that we nibbled on for a few days. It worked out to be about  6.5 Euros. Not bad. (If I wasn’t jetlagged, I could have worked it out. 1kg is a bit more than two pounds, so 100g is a bit more than 0.2 pounds which is a bit less than 1/4 pounds. Duh!)

The way this jamón is prepared is shaved in thin slices.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

So what is the fuss all about pata negra? Jamón Ibérico isn’t just any old pig. These are hams made from the Black Iberian Pig from the south and southwest of Spain. The pigs are fattened up on barley and corn for several weeks. Then the pigs are allowed to roam in the pastures and oak groves to fee on acorns, natural grasses and roots. Just before slaughtering, the diet may be restricted to acorns and/or olives for the top shelf Jamón Ibérico or acorns and commercial feed for the a more economical ham.

The hams are then salted and allowed to cure about two weeks. They are rinsed and dried for another four to six weeks. The final curing takes 12 to 48 months. The finest hams, Jamón Ibérico Bellota, are from the finest pigs, receive the highest quality diet and the best curing conditions.  Below you see these fetch 100+ Euros/kg.

©2012 Steve Borichevsky

Is all this worth it? Well, let me tell you. The Jamón Ibérico Extra that we purchased topped anything we had on the street cafes. Yes, yes, yes! You can taste the difference. Next time, just for the heck of it, I’m going for the Bellota just to see.


Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

I bet it smelled good inside. Would love to taste it.

Carol Mattingly said...

You're absolutely right Steve. We are flatfoots here in the states and anything on a hoove would probably scare us to death. Carol

Frank said...

Whow .... definitely spoilt for choice.

betty said...

I carried American salami to the home of my daughter's in-laws in the Dominican Republic. I was humbled. they served Serrano ham from Spain which was woderful. I see it hanging in this shop. The Bellota Pata Negro is surely out of their price range. What a fun, yummy day and good shots as well.

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