Back to the Source!
Fall 2019 and spring 2020 has and will be spent exploring Spain. In Spain you cannot go into any grocery store (no matter how small) without being able to find Jamon from Iberico pigs. Here at the Sophisticated Pig, we think Spain is a wonderful country :) Chris and I and some friends took time out from touring Seville to rent a car and head into the countryside to check out the whole Jamon creation process first hand. I booked a wonderful tour at Eiriz Jamones. You can check them out at www.jamoneseiriz.com
The Eiriz farm specializes in raising 100% purebred Iberico pig and lets them roam the farmland filled with acorn trees. The pigs get raised on grain and then the final 3+ months only acorns. These pigs are then turned into cured Jamon legs and other sausage products since no part of the pig is thrown away. They also cure Iberico pigs that are not 100% purebred, but they buy those pigs from local farmers. Below is a picture of the different grades of Iberico Jamon.
We started the tour with visiting the pigs in the fields. The farmer in charge of raising the pigs was a wealth of knowledge. However, he was in his 70's and lamented that not many younger people were entering into the farming profession since it's such long and hard work. He is not sure who will take over for him.
The second half of the tour was in their processing factory and we went from the Salting rooms, to curing, to ageing and finally packaging. Of course, the highlight was wine and Jamon tasting at the end. There is an amazing difference between the 100% Iberico acorn fed Jamon and all others. Something about the acorn feed at the end of the pig's growth makes it so that the fat in the meat is liquid at room temperature. This make for an incredible moist flavorful bite. Although, it's the most expensive Jamon, it is worth the experience to try it.
This tour lead me to want to cure pork butt and to experiment with the Cerdo Embuchado recipe that is on the site. If you ever vacation in Spain, I highly recommend you try the Jamon. The only way you would miss it, is if you never go into a food store or restaurant while there.