Iberian pork

To speak of Iberian pig is to speak of a treasure of our gastronomy. Immediately the elaborate ones come to mind; The Iberian ham and shoulders, both bait or the sumun of acorn, blood sausage or sausage. But the Iberian pig is more than their hams and elaborated products. Their fresh meats are of such sublime quality that they need practically no dressing to prepare healthy dishes and full of flavor that have little to do with those of white pig, given its more special characteristic, the formation of intramuscular fat streaks that endow the meat of a special and juicy.

Visually, Iberian pork is darker than white pork because it belongs to a porcine variety called “Iberian trunk” predominant in the Iberian peninsula. There are black and red varieties, as well as hairless or with hair, all of them with reddish flesh, finding the contrast with the fine veins of white fat. This feature is also visible on the loins and on the ham. In addition to being tastier, Iberian pork is also healthier than white pork because it has fatty acids beneficial to the cadiovascular system and has lower levels of saturated fat than other meats of the market. The difference between Iberian bait and acorn pigs is in their diet, since the latter have been fed with natural pastures and acorns, and thanks to the exercise they do in the montanera, the composition of the fresh meat and its veins is Even better. During the winter months (November-March) is the moment in which the slaughters of the Iberian acorn pigs take place, so it is the ideal time to consume this meat.


Within the cutting, there are some cuts more popular than others, such as sirloin, secret, prey or Iberian pen. Either of them is perfect for grilling or grilling without the need to add additional ingredients.

One of the cuts most appreciated is the one of the presa, because it is the one that has more fat intramuscular and marble aspect. The reason is because it is sited in the back part of the bacon above the paleta (shoulder) at the front of the loin. It is tender, tasty and very juicy. Exquisite for grilling and barbecue with some olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper, and you’ll instantly fall in love with this fatty, oval-shaped cut of pork..From each pig two pieces of approximately five hundred grams each are obtained. In the traditional cutting it is attached to the “back bacon”. Composed of muscular fibers and greased envena, it forms a fillet of about one hundred and fifty to two hundred grams. Adosada in the scapula, forms part of the head of loin. Its acquisition can be difficult for its consumption in fresh to the being ingredient of selected Iberian elaborated products (lomito, morcón of loin, etc.).

The so-called secreto is part of the upper end of the skirt and is also close to the spine head and behind the shoulder. In the traditional cutting it is attached to the “back bacon”. Composed of muscle fibers and fat mixed, it forms a fillet of about one hundred fifty to two hundred grams. This piece is known as crosshead, among its features stands out that one of the most fat and tasty pieces, is unattractive to the eye, with a not very regular cut and with grease interspersed, which provides to the Iberian secret an exquisite flavor when grilled.

The Iberian secreto of first is a very juicy piece and with more fat than the Extra Iberian Secret, extracted from the belly. Ideal for barbecues and stews.

The pluma is a piece that is placed near the shoulder, in the final or posterior part of the loin, whose muscular fibers approximate those of the upper portion of the ham. From each pig two feathers of between eighty and one hundred grams each are obtained. This meat is ideal to make grilled. In the current cutting, they are extracted together with the loin tape in its anterior portion. Fat free, can be the object of two operations: some industries select them and market for fresh consumption. Others make cane of loin (with the pen attached to the rest of the loin).

The boneless loin or loin tape -cinta de lomo-is obtained from the same piece as the chops if we separate the bones from the spine. It is along with the sirloin, the most prized piece of pork with a very lean and tasty meat that admits all forms of preparation, roasted, stuffed, fried, grilled or stuffed. It is easy to enjoy. Simply bake in the oven and cover with sea salt. Let the natural, acorn-infused flavors inherent in the meat do the rest.

The sirloin or tender loin is with the boneless loin the most appreciated piece despite its small size. It is located near the back of the pig. Extremely tender it is usually made grilled, fried or roasted.

There are other parts of the pig that are used in stews, such as castañuelas (salivary glands that give rise to a typically Andalusian dish. They require a good marinade of ajito, parsley, pepper and thyme, for its characteristic strong flavor), surprise (meat ball between the ear and the eye), the lizard -lagarto-(long strip of lean with fat between the chop and loin, highly prized and super juicy, it is recommended to do it only on the plate) the violin (meat attached to the bone that joins the Hams), cheeks (a lean piece placed in the jaw is prepared roasted or grilled, but mainly, usually cooked stew), fan -abanico-(relatively fine piece infiltrated ideal for barbecues), shoulder collar (a piece very similar to the presa with a little more fat, ideal for grilling and barbecue), spare ribs (special cut of the pork, different from the cutlet, is characterized by offering a bone and meat alternative that usually cook together, ideal for barbecue) rib chops  (it is the meat that is extracted from the ribs of the animal, very tasty on the grill), tail (very tasty and mellow, is mainly intended for stews and, to a lesser extent, grilled). Pig´s nose and ears, (pieces of pork with plenty of fat and a high percentage of cartilage, especially in the ear, can be prepared, fried or in sauce), belly –bacon (fat piece with a layer or mantle of lean muscle, very tasty and, it is a good remedy against bad cholesterol, or LDL, ideal for the iron, barbecue or stew), jowl (piece with high fat content, is prepared to the ember, also it is destined to the elaboration of the cooked one). Fatback, the skin and the layers that are under the skin of the pork, exquisite, is added to the preparation of broths) and liver (product of casquería, excellent and very healthy, ideal for grilling, pates, and fried).

About the author

Montse Gonzalez