Spain is a culinary treasure trove. Whether you've spent some time at the source exploring its gastronomy or are simply a big fan of the cuisine, you know that when it comes to its glorious meats and proteins, there's so much to uncover. And secreto Ibérico, a hidden cut of superbly marbled pork, is one of those great discoveries.
Spanish butchers call secreto Ibérico the "Iberian secret" because of its hidden nature in the pig. The thin cut is tucked in the side, between the shoulder blade and the loin and isn't obviously visible to the naked eye. It's right up near the fatty neck of the pig and thus, is thickly marbled and beyond juicy.
There’s no other cut of pig that even comes close to the quality, tenderness, and deliciousness of this one. Which is why it has become a coveted piece of pork in Spain and beyond.
The Ibérico Pigs
Secreto's deliciousness isn't just happenstance. Black Iberian pigs native to Spain and Portugal are lean animals and have the ability to store fat in every part of their muscles (rather than just a big fat cap under the skin), meaning loads of intramuscular fat and marbling.
The health and lifestyle of the Iberian pigs is also extremely important when it comes to quality, flavor, and tenderness. Ibérico pigs are typically fed an acorn-heavy diet and allowed to graze freely on grasses, nuts, bugs, and whatever else they come across. They're also never given any antibiotics or hormones, meaning they grow and develop at a natural and healthy pace. This gives the final cut a nutty, rich flavor that’s far healthier than the typical slab of industrial pork.
How to Prepare Secreto Ibérico
Okay, you're convinced. So how do you prepare this highly flavorful and unique cut of pork? The great thing about secreto is that it’s as versatile as it is delicious. You don't need to add much more than a little salt and pepper to make it shine. Let the delicacy speak for itself—anything else may overpower the flavor. And because of secreto's thinness, it's also super simple and quick to whip up. Here are few tips, whether you want to pan-sear it, grill it, or even toss it in the oven.
Pan-Seared Secreto Ibérico
A quick pan sear is the easiest and most common way to cook secreto. A cast iron pan is the ideal tool, but any hefty sauté pan will do. A flash in that hot pan—2 minutes or so on each side—is all you need. Sprinkle a little crunchy salt and pepper over to garnish.
Grilled Secreto Ibérico
Grilling adds a whole other charred element and texture to secreto. Season both sides of the pork and set the meat over high and direct heat, cooking for 1-2 minutes on each side.
Presa's thick marbling really shines with grilling and pan-searing methods. The fat gets browned and crispy, while the inside stays tender and soft, offering a next-level textural experience.
Though the stove and grill are the most traditional ways of cooking secreto, you can also try it out in the oven. Preheat your oven to 150ºF and place the pork in a oven-safe dish or baking sheet. Rub a little extra-virgin olive oil on the secreto and bake for 2-3 hours, until the temperature reaches 140ºF. Remove it from the oven, then sear it a pan for 1-2 minutes on each side to lock in the moisture and get it all nice and crispy.
Spain's Best Kept Secret
Hungry and ready to taste Spain's best kept succulent secret? Snag an Ibérico Pork Box and get your hands on some of the country's best porky goodness. This is pork the way it's supposed to taste.