Jul 6, 2008

jamón ibérico de bellota

The jamón ibérico de bellota is a cured ham from Spain or Portugal. There's been a lot of writing about it lately because until early 2008 you just weren't allowed to sell it in the States. The reason for this is that no abattoirs were USDA approved. For the simple reason that they didn't need to be. They would always sell out of their ham allotment. Why go any extra trouble?

That is until recently when a group of investors built a abattoir specifically for sale into the US. Why might they do this? Well the ham is supposed to be superb. It sells for about $80 a pound.

The ham is made from the black Iberian pig and the bellota version of the ham is only fed acorns at the end of its life. The hind legs are then cured for 18-36 months.

This weekend I popped by my favorite cheese shop, Stinky, to pick up some cheese. Low and behold there was a large ham leg sitting on the front desk. I was pretty sure I knew what it was. So I picked up a 1/4 pound to try. It's a pretty cool piece of meet because the hoof and the whole leg is intact. They just slice it right off the leg. It definitely makes a statement.

The verdict? Well to be honest, nothing special. To be sure, it's a very nice piece of ham. Less like what we'd think of ham and more like a proscuitto. Very fatty and the meat is a deep red almost like a bresaola. But at the end of the day I didn't think it was worth $80 a pound. I was expecting a much deeper and richer taste but it's actually quite subtle.

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