This Father’s day, gussy up your traditional barbecue by serving pops the king of pigs: the Iberico.
The Iberico pig is a delicacy. Raised free-range and having close ties to the land enriches it with a flavour that is unmistakably of the surrounding terroir.
Unlike its pink or spotted North American cousin, the Iberico pig, or Pata Negra is a tall pig, typically lean and black in colour. It is said to have been a cross breed of indigenous Iberian wild boars and domesticated pigs brought from the Mediterranean coast by seafaring Phoenician traders.
Unlike most farmed pigs, the Iberico is raised free to roam the wooded pastoral areas of the Spanish countryside. Here their diet, enriched by an abundance of flora like fresh herbs, mushrooms, and notably acorns, coupled with a highly active lifestyle gives their meat a true richness. This high fat and free-range diet saturates the pigs with a delicate yet complex flavour that many refer to as akin to nuts. The Iberico also have a unique ability to store fat intramuscularly, rendering a completely natural marbling effect, another aspect that makes these pigs so prized.
Because of their fatty, acorn-rich and free-range diet, the Iberico (and its ribs) tend to be quite a bit fattier than your typical hog. However their fat is clean, clear and delicate, the trick here is rendering it to maximize flavour and texture.
To compliment the richness in the meat, consider serving it with an acidic condiment, like the minted chimichurri below. Much like mint cuts through the richness of lamb, so too does the mint, acid and parsley work to provide freshness and levity to this decadent dish.
Looking to source some primo Iberico ribs for this year’s Father’s Day barbecue? You may be hard pressed finding them is your local grocery store, but online purveyor of fine Spanish food, Lola and Miguel is a great stop for all things Iberico.
2 racks of Iberico ribs
1 teaspoon of hot paprika
1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of dried harissa powder
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of Mexican chili powder
½ teaspoon of garlic powder
2 carrots, halved lengthways
1 cup of stock, beer or water
Preheat oven to 325F
Combine all of the spices and rub evenly over the ribs
Lay the carrots along the bottom of a large braising dish to create a raft for the ribs and pour in the stock, beer or water
Arrange the ribs, fat side up upon the carrot raft and braise in the oven, uncovered for 3 hours
Once three hours has elapsed heat a barbecue or indoor grill pan to medium-high heat
Grill the ribs, fat side down for approximately 5 minutes, or until slightly crisp and some fat has been rendered
Serve with sliced chilies and minted chimichurri
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup of mint leaves, chopped
¼ cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped
5 basil leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons of good quality olive oil
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
Combine all ingredients and let marry for at least one hour