07 Aug2005

Jamon Iberico

by Marketman

Jamon Iberico is superb. It is yet another form of porcine fat that really gets me going. aiber1If I knew I only had 24 hours left on this planet, I would definitely consume some of this Spanish ham. Some friends of ours recently returned from Spain and brought us several packages of pre-sliced Jamon Iberico. My wife and I have consumed nearly all of it ourselves. We didn’t share one ounce with anyone else and we don’t feel badly about this… Jamon Iberico is a Spanish ham made from a native strain of Iberian pigs known for their black trotters. They are related to wild boar, I suppose. Raised in special pens in the Southern and Western parts of Spain, each pig is allowed to roam in a large corralled area for up to two years to fatten, develop their muscles and build up flavor.

The pigs gorge themselves on a diet of fallen acorns in the Fall season then they are slaughtered, salted, dried and aged for up to two years. They are not smoked or cooked in any way. aiber2The salt does essentially “cook” the meat and when ready, it is served thinly sliced, on its own or with some good bread. My favorite Italian dry salted raw ham is a Prosciutto di Parma or better yet a San Daniele but I think Jamon Iberico is significantly better. The color is a deep burgundy/red due to the strain of pig, its active lifestyle prior to slaughtering and the lengthy aging process where over 25% of its weight evaporates leaving a concentrated ham with fantastic flavor. It is streaked or marbled with fat that means flavor, flavor, flavor. It is also firmer or more substantial than the prosciuttos I have tried.

Less than 5% of all hams in Spain are Jamon Iberico and it is wickedly priced. aiber3On one U.S. website that is taking orders for U.S. delivery in 2006-2007 when they expect to clear strict U.S.D.A. quality standards, they are quoting a price of USD60 per pound for hams with their bones in!!! That’s over PHP7,000 per kilo! Yikes, no wonder they slice it so thinly. Jamon Serrano, on the other hand, now only applies to hams made from white pigs and this is much more common that Jamon Iberico and costs significantly less. If presented with the opportunity, do not pass up the chance to try this superb Jamon Iberico from Spain, you won’t regret it!



  1. gerry de jesus says:

    hey marketman, heard about your website from a mutual friend. it’s great! anyway, jamon iberico is also my favorite ham. i get my regular ‘fix’ from terry’s delicatessen, or as a wonderful sandwich at their 2nd floor restaurant, segundo piso. their prices are reasonable, which i believe is less than P7,000/kg

    Aug 7, 2005 | 10:48 am


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  3. Bea Misa says:

    I just saw Anthony Bourdain’s episode on El Bulli, and though I am vegetarian, Jamon Iberico sounded and looked “very probably tasty”! I had no idea it was that expensive though.

    Aug 7, 2005 | 10:53 am

  4. fried-neurons says:

    I was reading an article about jamón iberico recently. Apparently some producers in Spain have built special pig enclosures that will meet USDA requirements. I forget exactly what makes these enclosures different from how they traditionally raise these pigs (patas negras or something like that). Anyway, it’ll be a slightly different way of raising the same kind of pigs, and the producers are anticipating that the USDA will approve the resulting jamon for importation into the US. I can’t wait! :)

    Aug 7, 2005 | 2:27 pm

  5. Carlo says:

    Like you, MM, if I were given some jamon iberico, I wouldn’t share it with anyone. :) Yes, it’s that good.

    I find it amusing whenever I hear/read stories of US citizens attempting to bring back jamon iberico or other cured meat products into the US only to have it confiscated by Customs at the airport. In this regard, I’m glad that Philippine Customs officials are not as strict as their US counterparts.

    Aug 8, 2005 | 12:56 am

  6. Marketman says:

    Carlo, I agree… our customs folks are much more lenient. I once brought in a whole box filled with 6+ kinds of berries from Australia and they just looked at it, asked what they were, and let it in…

    Aug 8, 2005 | 8:20 am

  7. Jay says:

    I miss the black-footed ham! Had it in Europe a couple of years ago, and it does leave a lasting memory. Being in the US definitely has its drawbacks. Have to make do with serrano.

    Aug 8, 2005 | 9:33 am

  8. Mila says:

    I remember a story about the New York Customs: a woman was bringing in raw cheese, hams, and other food stuff from Italy. She was told by the customs agent that the food could not enter the US, so she had a picnic at the baggage claim area for anyone who wanted to share in the bounty.

    I brought raw cheese into the Philippines this May and was a bit worried it would not be allowed in. But the customs officer paid it no mind.

    MM, do any of the Spanish restuarants in Manila import Jamon iberico? I’m going to Germany next week and plan to bring some schinken from Bavaria back, along with cheese and some strong rye bread. I wonder if I can get some good Parma ham and then a few slices of the jamon to treat friends here to a taste test. Hmmmm….

    Aug 8, 2005 | 10:24 am

  9. schatzli says:

    Bon Soir naku cant wait till we go to Palma… sana dadaan kami ng Barcelona if we do I will probably buy some………..am just lucky travelling with in the EU! I can always buy food every where…

    Aug 9, 2005 | 12:59 am

  10. Marketman says:

    Mila, according to Gerry up top on comments, Terry’s deli brings in jamon iberico…I will have to check that out soon. I have only tried their jamon serrano in the past… Schatzli ang daya mo talaga… talk about bounty! Here in Manila we have to wait for the modern galleons (747’s) to emply their balikbayan boxes to get some European and American specialties!

    Aug 9, 2005 | 12:53 pm

  11. Chiqui says:

    Now I have to go to Terry’s and try their jamon iberico to see what all the fuss is about. I’m sure it will be good. I’ve only had jamon serrano and I’m trying to be a vegetarian but you all make it sound so good. Gerry, are you the friend of Mia Trin? Hi!

    Aug 9, 2005 | 4:52 pm

  12. MikeM says:

    Ahhh, pata negra…. I am fairly sure it goes by another name as well- jamon jabugo. I must say that it is superior to any ham or cured meat I have ever tasted, and supposedly it is loaded with good cholesterol too. I agree that it is a definite “If I only had 24 hours left…” food. Actually, in my book it’s one of those rare things in life that are better than s**. Would you know what causes it to be so oily? It doesnt seem to have that much more fat on it than your regular serrano…

    Aug 11, 2005 | 12:50 pm

  13. Marketman says:

    I don’t know for certain what makes it oily, but I suspect because it is aged for SO long, say two years, all of the moisture or water has already been removed and the oiliness is exacerbated. But it is GOOD oil, no?

    Aug 11, 2005 | 3:39 pm

  14. Alex Bernardo says:

    It’s indeed the best ham in the world. I’ve been muching on this ever since I discovered it in Paris at Casa da Rosa years ago. It’s expensive there as well, close to a grand for a whole leg. They usually have about 6 different kinds of pata negra or jamon Iberico there and it’s nice to do a degustÃ¥tion. Pata negra varies in taste and quality producer by producer. One time I was at da Rosa I tasted a pata negra from Portugal. It was amazing, too! Melts in your mouth kind of goodness. It’ll give the Spanish pata negra tough competition and it’s even slightly cheaper.
    Last year I was at Girona in the Catalan region and also ate lots of pata negra there. I smuggled back to San Francisco a few ounces vacuum-sealed in a plastic bag. The vendor there told me to let it breathe for several minutes before attacking it. It was heaven to enjoy it with locally bought Acme bread.
    Back in Manila a few weeks ago, I enjoyed a plateful at Segundo Piso above Terry’s gourmet store and deli. The producer they carry is excellent! The way they present it there is exactly how it should be. I like the slices of warm french bread they bring with the ham. And I washed it down with a cool glass of rosada (Spanish rose). Out of all the numerous times I’ve eaten pata negra, including in Spain, that’s the best I’ve enjoyed it! Byt the way, I just read in last Sunday’s paper that Gaudi is also serving it. Gotta try it there, too.
    One last thing, I heard from folks in Spain that fat in pata negra is good fat. It’s actually used there, too for medicinal purposes.

    Aug 17, 2005 | 10:17 am

  15. Marketman says:

    Alex, sounds like you are the resident jamon iberico expert…I just passed by Terry’s to check out the price for Gerry, up top, and it is PHP7,500 per kilo, a princely sum. But good things cost money, don’t they? Thank goodness 50 grams can cure a craving…

    Aug 19, 2005 | 7:02 am

  16. quiapo says:

    Jamon iberico de belota traditonally is not raised in pens, but roams free in the Extremadura area where there are both winter and summer acorns, hence the pigs feed on acorns all year round. The shepherd carries a long pole,and as the pigs forage, he hits branches of the oak tree with this pole, scattering more acorns for the pigs. The species used is an ancient one, and the black foot is left on the cured ham as evidence of origin. I understand Jabugo is a village in Extremadura which produces excellent hams. The mountainous region of Extremadura (where the conquistadors tend to come from) is shared between Spain and Portugal, so it is not surprising that Portugal also has similar quality hams. As I mentioned in another comment, Jamon Iberico de Belota costs $320 per kilo in Sydney, or about P12,000 a kilo. My daughter attended the wedding of a family friend in Navarre last year, where the bridegroom carried a Jamon Iberico from table to table giving out slices to all the guests.
    Attempts in Australia to duplicate the flavour of the ham have been absolutely unsuccesful; there is no finer ham in all the world.

    May 30, 2008 | 8:47 pm

  17. bagito says:

    I finally tasted jamon iberico de bellota tonight. OMG! What a revelation. It was worth every penny. This meal was so memorable–had that and wagyu beef in the same meal. Talk about a gastronomic delight!

    Feb 22, 2009 | 2:28 pm


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