What is Secreto Ibérico & How to Prepare It
The secreto ibérico has been, for many years, one of the butchers' best kept secrets, hence its name! It is said that this cut of Ibérico, which became popular in recent years, was one of the parts that butchers kept for themselves or used for making sausages. Luckily, things have changed and we can all enjoy Secreto intact like the delicacy it is.
What is the Iberian Secreto?
The Secreto is one of the most prized cuts of Iberian pork and one of the most requested parts by diners. It has a unique flavor and an incomparable texture. This cut is extracted from the upper end of the pig's flank and it is located between the shoulder and the belly of the animal. In order to extract the Secreto, the butcher has to make a precise horizontal cut to get into the area.
Although the origin of this cut’s name is still a mystery, it is known that only two Secretos can be extracted from each Ibérico pig. This undoubtedly makes it a highly prized, select, and exclusive cut. But it's also a favorite among diners for its incredible flavor and how easy is to prepare.
The name Ibérico or Iberian comes from the Ibérico pig. This type of pigs only lives in the Spanish and Portuguese pastures and they are raised on large farms and graze freely in the meadows. They get a lot of exercise throughout their lives, which contributes to a high level of intramuscular fat throughout the muscle. In addition, towards the end of their days, the pigs feed on acorns, a diet that gives their meat a more intense flavor.
Ibérico meat is characterized for being very juicy and having the perfect balance between fat and lean meat. This balance attributes to unmatched flavors and melt-in-your-mouth textures.
The fat infiltration and the excellent diet of the pig also means that Ibérico has many nutritional properties. For example, it has high levels of healthy cholesterol and it is said to help reduce bad cholesterol; its organoleptic properties are similar to those of olive oil. On top of that, it has high levels of protein, B vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus, zinc and magnesium.
How to prepare Secreto Ibérico?
To prepare Iberian Secreto you don't need much. The meat speaks for itself! Here are a few tips to get you started:
Bring to room temperature
The first thing to do is to take the meat out of the refrigerator two hours before cooking, to allow it to come to room temperature. This helps cook the meat evenly, and prevents it from undercooking on the inside. To bring the meat to room temperature, remove it from its package and place on the counter so it can breathe. Once the meat is at room temperature, use paper towels to pat the Secreto and absorb any excess liquid.
Keep it simple
The Ibérico Secreto is a cut that speaks for itself. It doesn't necessarily need a complicated cooking process or big spices and sauces. A pinch of coarse salt or flaky sea salt does wonders for the cut and bring out all its natural flavors.
Crank the heat
The Ibérico Secreto is best cooked over high heat and needs little to no oil. Because of its high fat composition, it won't stick to the pan, griddle, or barbecue grates. If you do need to use oil, a little drizzle of olive oil will do the trick. Or trim off a small piece of fat from the Secreto, render the fat in the pan, and cook the Secreto in its own oil.
To cook Ibérico Secreto, you only need to cook it a few minutes on each side on high heat in a hot pan, or over direct heat on the grill. Once the first side is cooked, turn and cook another few minutes. After you flip, you can add in any additional herbs or aromatics, like garlic or rosemary.The Secreto should be crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.
Cut with the grain
Once the Secreto has rested a few minutes to finish cooking and lock in the juices, it's time to cut. To slice, cut along the grain and marbling (not against the grain). This keeps the Secreto muscle fibers in tact and helps the meat retain its juice and tenderness.