If you’ve ever had Iberico ham, you know that it’s one of those things that changes your perception on food. You may have had a similar experience with a cocktail or desert, but rarely does a meat product leave a lasting impression on someone’s palate. With Iberico rapidly making its way onto Canadian plates in the last decade, we decided to explore the process behind it’s unique flavour and why it’s taken so long to reach North American kitchens.
Iberico ham comes from the South-West region of Spain where hogs consume a diet primarily made of Thyme, Rosemary, Mushrooms and Acorns. These all sound like great ingredients to cook a pig in, but the significance of their diet is necessary to mention when it comes to the curing process.
Iberico hogs are larger than your standard white pig and have vessels of fat running through their muscles. This allows the meat to be cured longer which creates a more intense flavour. The acorns from their diet act as a natural antioxidant during the curing stages which last for a minimum of 2 years; just like a scotch that gets better with age, the excess fat allows the meat to cure for a longer period giving it an unparalleled taste.
If it’s so good, why has it taken so long for chef’s in Canada to popularize it? For the longest time, there was a little trade war between the European Union and US/Canada. It’s a long story but cooler heads prevailed and we can do tradzies now, so that’s all that matters.
Looking to get your hands on Iberico meats? Try Scheffler’s Deli in the St. Lawrence Market or grab the Charcuteria board In The Lounge next time you visit Baro!