Dish of Ibérico ham. Juan Manuel Sanz/©ICEX
The best cuts of the Iberico pig - the rear limbs (for hams) and the front limbs (for shoulders) - are used to make what are unanimously considered the world's best hams. The thin legs of the Iberico breed are one of its distinguishing marks and, after a careful, long process of production, are converted into a much-prized delicacy. When served as wafer-thin slices, it reveals its marbling and its unmistakable, exclusive flavor.
The production process lasts almost two years, involving salting, settling, drying and curing. The industry has maintained the traditional process based on conditions in the pig's natural habitat - climate, wind, rainfall - and using modern reproductive techniques.
The many virtues of this unparalleled product can be described by a variety of adjectives. Eco-friendly, because it helps preserve the ecosystem of the dehesa, the last Euro-Mediterranean woodland environment. Healthy, because of its nutritional content, with a high oleic acid content and monounsaturated fats that do not raise cholesterol levels. Unique, because it comes from a breed that lives only in the Iberian Peninsula and can only flourish on an acorn-based diet. Traditional, because it stems from ancient customs. Natural, because it requires no other ingredient except for sea salt. Exquisite, as shown by the praise it receives, and universal, in that it pleases the most demanding of palates in the furthest corners of the world.
Iberico ham is undoubtedly Spain's leading gourmet product and is one of the main contributions made by Spanish culinary culture to the world's gastronomic heritage. A Spanish icon that triumphs the world over.