Iberico pork is oftentimes compared to Beef Wagyu - it’s simply the best of the best when it comes to pork. The Iberico Pluma is a special and tender cut taken from the end of the loin. The appearance is similar to feathers, which is where it gets its name. “Pluma” means feather.
Though the pluma is surrounded by an abundance of fat, it’s exactly that which gives this cut its noteworthy and succulent flavor. In general, it’s best to cook Iberico pork cuts like steak - a nice healthy char on the outside while medium-rare on the inside.
Where Does Iberico Pluma Come From?
Iberico ham is produced in Spain and parts of Portugal. The pluma is harvested from special pigs called “Pata Negra”, whose name comes from their unique black hooves. The bodies of the pigs are black as well.
Despite the active lifestyle these pigs have - up to 5 acres of land per pig in the hilly mountain sides - they have a significant amount of fat on their bodies and creamy fat veins throughout the meat.
What Type of Cut is Iberico Pluma?
Iberico Pluma is cut from the neck end of the pork loin. The word “pluma” means feather, and it’s taken from the wing-like appearance of this cut.
This is a tender and incredibly juicy, succulent cut, far more so than the presa steak. It’s quite thin, but it’s leaner than the secreto which is also known for its taste and texture.
Why is the Iberico Pluma so Special?
The reason why this cut of pork is so special comes down to the pigs themselves. They spend their whole lives running free in the mountainous forests and meadows of the regions of Spain where the Iberian pigs are bred, raised, and “sacrificed”.
The diet of these pigs is also incredibly important and vital to producing that special and distinct flavor of the Iberico pork. The pigs are fed a ton of acorns, which contributes to the unique, slight nutty flavor of the Iberico. The exercise and rich diet of acorns, wild grasses and mushrooms all contribute to the health and wellness of each pig - which also contributes to the final flavor and tender meat harvested later.
Even if you don’t know much about pork, you can tell just by looking at it that Iberico is different. It has an incredibly mouth-watering marbling in the muscles which adds to the unique flavor profile of this pork.
Despite being super high in fat, Iberico is also high in oleic oil, the same fat found in olive oil. Oleic oil is said to reduce cholesterol which is known to aid in cardiovascular health.
How Do You Cook Iberico Pluma?
- Preheat oven to 425F
- Meanwhile make or prepare your marinade
- Pat dry and salt each slice of pluma
- Sear in a pan for 3 minutes on each side
- Pop the pluma in the oven to finish, for 4-6 minutes depending on the thickness of the meat
- Brush a the marinade on top of the pork and serve
This is an easy one, and a fan favorite.
- Heat your grill to 480F
- Pat your pluma dry and set on dry paper towels - you want it to be as dry as possible so you get a delicious crunchy exterior
- Sprinkle 2 parts flour 1 part salt onto the meat - this will help you to get that crunchy crispy texture
- Place the pluma over direct heat on the grill and cook on both sides for 3 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when it begins to brown
- Remove it from the heat and let it rest for 2 minutes
- Serve and enjoy
This method isn’t too different from the oven method, actually. However, you’ll be starting and finishing the cooking process in the skillet.
- Pat the pluma dry with a paper towel and season both sides with salt and pepper
- Heat up a cast-iron skillet with oil over medium-high heat
- Place the pluma into the skillet carefully
- Sear for 4-5 minutes before flipping
- Drain off the excess fat
- After an initial flip, cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until you reach the desired doneness level - medium rare should have an internal temperature of 135F
- Remove from heat and let the pluma rest before cutting and serving
Iberico pluma is an incredibly special and succulent cut of pork. It’s not hard to see why it’s so popular and beloved the world over - from the tender and juicy soft texture, to the incredible marbling of fat throughout the muscle, which adds to that unbeatable flavor, this cut is just simply magnificent.
Pork lovers all over the world are scrambling to get their hands on this pork once their preferred butcher refills their stocks.