Jamon Iberico Madrid Guide
Jamon Iberico is highly specialist and revered smoked ham that is a true delicacy of Madrid, Jamon Iberico is the Champaign of the savoury world. Ask for Jamon Iberico in a small family run Tapas bar and be in for a treat as you are severed some of the finest meats of the world. For the real connoisseur whole smoked joints can be purchased from the specialist butchers in the centre of Madrid.
Jamon Iberico Cuts and the Curing Process
Jamon Iberico is more than a mass produced meat; care, love and traditions govern the production of this speciality. Jamon Iberico can be only cut from the Black Iberian Pigs that are native to northern Spain and central Portugal. The diet of the pigs is also strictly controlled given rise to the different grades of the meat. The most prized cut of Jamon Iberico comes from a pig which was solely feed on acorns for the last 6 weeks before slaughter and allowed to roam free. The diet and excise tenderises the meat and gives a distinctive taste, this exclusive cut is called Jamon Iberico de bellota (Iberian ham of acorns) and cost many times the prices of lesser cuts. The second grade which is more commonly found in Madrid is Jamon Iberico de recebo. Here the Black Iberian Pigs are feed a mixture of acorns and grain and allowed to roam free in huge fields.
The third grade is Jamon Iberico de cebo, the pigs are feed on a diet of high quality grain and left to wander smaller fields. This standard is served at most restaurants and is commonly on sale in the butchers of Madrid, it is often just referred to as Jamon Iberico. This may be the lesser level of the three but the pigs are still free range and the meat must be smoked for a minimum of 24 months.
Is Jamon Iberico Healthy?
Unlike many meats the white streaks of fat (intra muscular fat) add favour and for the more expensive brands are of a health benefit. The diet of acorns for the pigs causes the fat to be monounsaturated and oleic acid forms in the white fat which reduces cholesterol.