Thursday, June 18, 2009

Jamón ibérico, Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain

Also known as Pata Negra, is a type of ham produced only in Spain. What makes the meat of these pigs so special is what happens to them after their are weaned from their mothers plethora of breasts.

First they are fattened on barley and maize for several weeks. From sows milk to barley and maize (corn) before being allowed to roam the Spanish countryside feasting on what they find in the oak groves: acorns, truffles, herbs, roots and grass until the grim reaper appears.

The hams from the slaughtered pigs are salted and left to begin drying for two weeks, after which they are rinsed and left to dry for another four to six weeks. The curing process then takes at least twelve months, although some producers cure their jamones ibéricos for up to 36 months. Along the way, during the drying process they experience the natural breezes of the Spanish countryside in the same way when the meat was on the hoof in the oak groves. Imagine the fastidious care that goes into this production!

The final product is sliced very thinly and from what I have witnessed from watching Tony and Andy, it is like butter in your mouth.

In any meat it is the fat that holds the flavor. Pata Negra's unique characteristic comes from the hint of nuts in the fat that is exquisitely positioned throughout the ham. The result is a silky, smoothness in your mouth that is unforgettable.

I can't wait to experience this for myself. Thanks to Paul and Sonsoles falling in love.

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