The Ultimate Guide: How to Cook Ibérico Coppa
In Campo Grande Ultimate Guides, we take a focused look at Ibérico cuts, offer tips on the best ways to prepare them, and help you master Ibéricos from head to tail.
What is Ibérico Coppa?
Coppa is a sizable cut full of possibilities. Also referred to as the “mogote” in Spain, the Coppa comes from the upper collar of the Ibérico pig, beginning at the head and making its way down through the upper pork shoulder through about the 4th rib. It’s essentially an extension of the pork loin.
When butchered, the bones are removed and you’re left with a cylinder barrel-like shape that’s highly marbled and full of tasty fat. The Ibérico pig uses this muscle frequently, which also makes for a super flavorful muscle cut.
“Coppa” is technically an Italian name for the cut but it falls under a number of different names depending on where you are in the world— from bondiola in Argentina, to top pork shoulder in the U.S., or even shoulder eye by many butchers. One thing is certain: it’s revered as the “money muscle” by all because of its value.
Unfortunately, if you head to the supermarket and you’re unlikely to find Coppa. Only two of these cuts are available in each pig (making it expensive), and most American-style butchers don’t specifically remove this cut alone. It often gets mixed into other cuts, like the neck or Boston butt, which is why access to a hunk of Ibérico Coppa is all the more extraordinary.
How to Cook Coppa
Coppa is coveted by chefs around the globe because it offers up numerous cooking possibilities and ways of incorporating flavors. There are all sorts of paths to take when executing a properly cooked Coppa. This guide gives you the tools to choose your adventure.
Rubs & Marinades
Coppa’s thick nature means there’s a lot of hidden surface area that needs seasoning. If you’ve followed Campo Grande for long enough, you already know that a little salt and pepper is all any cut of this prized Spanish pork needs to show its stuff. But other seasonings offer other nuances and are honestly just fun to play around with. And because Coppa is such a big cut, it holds up well to sweet and salty spice rubs or a crusting of dried herbs, which penetrate down into the core of the meat, add flavor, and soften the muscles.
Marinades do much of the same and more. Coppa’s well-worked muscles love a punchy marinade; the acids and salts help soften the meat and create an unimaginably tender and flavorful bite.
Cook it Slow
Of all the ways to cook an Ibérico Coppa, low and slow is where it really shines. Coppa has loads of intramuscular fat, and it also has fibers, tissues, and collagen that turn into delicious melty gelatin when cooked at low temperatures for extended periods. As the muscles relax, the meat softens and becomes absurdly tender, producing those melt-in-your-mouth bites you can tear off with your hands.
Slow-Cooked Coppa on the Grill
We’re undeniably partial to grilling Ibérico— it connects us back to the way folks cook Ibérico in the Spanish countryside. To get it done, first thoroughly season the Coppa and sear the whole hunk over direct heat to get a nicely browned crust. Then, wrap it up in foil with any other ingredients (onions, citrus juice, wine, peppers) and set it over indirect heat to cook for about 3-4 hours in a covered grill at 250ºF until the meat hits an internal temperature of 145ºF. Alternatively, keep things dry and smoky Texas BBQ-style and use wood chips to smoke and grill over low, indirect heat.
Slow-Cooked Coppa in the Oven
Coppa works beautifully roasted in the oven.Think roast beef, but Spanish pork. Season and sear your Coppa over high heat in a cast iron skillet (or any other oven-proof satué pan) until it's nice and browned on all sides. Slide it into a 300ºF oven and cook until a meat thermometer hits 145ºF. While it cooks, baste it with a sweet and sour marinade or punchy sauce to layer on the flavor and keep it moist.
Slow-Cooked Coppa on the Stove
A stovetop braise is Coppa’s best wintertime friend— the kind you serve with creamy mashed potatoes or cheesy polenta, roast veggies, and crusty bread. Again, season and sear the Coppa, but this time in a big pot or dutch oven. Remove the meat, cook down your aromatics (onions, carrots, spices, dried herbs) in the browned bits, add some liquid (wine, broth), and throw the Coppa back into the pot. Cook on low heat for 4-5 hours, covered, until the meat is tender and falls apart when you poke at it with a fork.
Coppa Sous Vide
Sous vide is a foolproof way to arrive at absolutely perfect tenderness. Set your sous vide to 150ºF and cook the whole Coppa for 24 hours in a vacuum-sealed bag with your favorite spices or aromatics. This will give you that pulled pork texture.
Slice Thin & Sear
Coppa also does well when sliced super thin and quickly seared. Slice it anywhere from carpaccio-thin to about ½-inch, marinade it for a bit to add flavor (if that’s your jam), and sear in a skillet over high heat for a couple minutes on each side until golden brown.
Top Ibérico Coppa Recipes
Slow-cooked Ibérico Coppa on the grill is your base for an endless number of insanely delicious meals. Stuff it into tacos, make epic sammies, or check out our recipes for Coppa Carnitas Quesadillas, Loaded Potatoes with Grilled Coppa Carnitas, and Coppa Carnitas Sandwiches with Apple Slaw
Attention ramen fans: this is your new dig. This umami-packed bowl of steaming noodles gets the Ibérico treatment with thin slices of marinated Coppa and a whole slew of veggies and mushrooms.
This is more than just your average taco. Not only does the Ibérico Coppa make for an absurdly tender filling, but the extra cheesy doubled up tortillas are like a quesadilla gone wild.
Pulled pork is just the beginning of your Coppa adventure. This spoon-tender Ibérico on the grill is perfect on its own, but shines even brighter in our Coppa Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese or Fireside Coppa Pulled Pork Sammies.
Make these fiery Coppa montaditos (small tapas-style sandwiches) with liquid smoke to get that just-barbecued flavor without a grill. Here, Coppa is sliced thin and seared for a quick and easy appetizer.
A simple sauce with basic pantry items adds crunchy textures to the melt-in-your-mouth, oven-roasted Coppa.
This epic Ibérico sandwich can come together entirely on the grill, from the slow-roasted Coppa to the melty, cheesy toasted bread.
Though this recipe calls for oven-roasting, it also works perfectly on the grill. Eat the extra-tender roasted Coppa on its own, or make next-level sandwiches and burgers with seasonal toppings and condiments.
4-5 hours of slow stovetop simmering gives you a spoon-tender meat and a rich red wine garlic sauce. If you think ahead, cook this stew the day before for 3-4 hours, and finish with another hour right before you're ready to serve. The flavors will meld and intensify!
Leftover Coppa of any kind (carnitas, pulled pork, or roasted) makes killer quesadillas. Make these in the oven for that extra layer of melty browned cheese.