If you look at the neck of an Iberian pig, you will find a thin cut of meat hidden in the side, between the shoulder blade and the loin. This is where the secret lies - the Secreto Iberico pork cut. The name directly translates as “Iberian Secret” and it’s not hard to see why.
The Secreto Iberico is a Spanish delicacy which is thickly marbled with the embedded fat of the neck. There’s no other cut of pig that even comes close to the quality, tenderness, and juiciness of this one.
It’ll cost you, too. There’s only two on each pig, so even if you opt for a different breed - instead of the specially bred “Pata Negra” Spanish pigs - you’ll still incur a rather large price tag. Depending on the breed of pig, the size of the cut can vary drastically.
The health and lifestyle of the black Iberian pigs is extremely important when it comes to quality, flavor, and tenderness.
They’re typically fed an acorn heavy diet while being allowed to roam and graze freely. This gives the final cut a nutty, rich flavor that’s highly sought after. It’s a Spanish delicacy for a reason.
The intramuscular fat of the Secreto Iberico is delicious, and surprisingly quite healthy for you. This meat has a distinctive flavor that’s far different from your average pork because of the intensive conditions set by the industrial farms that raise these pigs. They’re a perfect example of high-quality meat.
How to Prepare Secreto Iberico ?
With such a sought-after, highly flavorful, and unique cut of pork, how are you supposed to prepare it?
Well, however you like really. The great thing about this cut is that it’s as versatile as it is delicious. You can pan-sear it, grill it, bake it, however you want it to be served there’s a recipe that suits it.
The simplest way to cook your cut of Secreto Iberico is to just fry it up in a skillet or pan. It doesn’t have to be a cast-iron, but it helps.
To avoid overcomplicating things, you really don’t need to add much more than salt and pepper. Adding too much to the dish will overpower the unique flavor of the pork. Let this delicacy speak for itself - quickly grill or sear on a high heat for a minute or two on each side, and sprinkle some salt and pepper to top it off. Anything else is just overkill.
Not the first method most would use, but the oven is always a great staple in the kitchen. It’ll come in handy here if you’re pressed for time or have a lot of other things to prepare along with the pork.
- Set the oven to a low heat, 140-158 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the pork in an oven-safe casserole dish or baking sheet.
- Coat the meat in extra virgin olive oil.
- Heat for a few hours
Once the temperature of the Secreto Iberico has reached a maximum of 140 degrees Fahrenheit, remove it from the oven.
The final step is to sear it in the pan real quick. This locks in the moisture and gives it a perfect golden outer layer
Another way, the traditional or “classic” way, is to cook your Secreto Iberico over a grill.
- Salt and pepper both sides of the pork cut
- Lay them evenly on the grill
- Sear quickly over a high heat, flipping after 1-2 minutes
The high fat content of the pork should result in a perfectly seared, golden-brown crust on the outer layer. This gives an incredible textural experience, the outer layer being crisp and the interior being tender and juicy.
Sauce and seasonings besides the humble salt and pepper are not required, and may even negatively affect your dining experience with this rich and decadent cut of pork.
The type of sear you get on your outer layer is all dependent on how you like your pork cuts prepared. Someone who enjoys a bit of char on theirs will need to cook it for a bit longer - say 4-5 minutes - while flipping every 30-60 seconds. While this may seem like overhandling, but to get that delicious burned char on the outer layer, it’s an important step.
Much like the Japanese Wagyu steak, the Secreto Iberico is a decadent and highly sought-after cut of pork. The price is prohibitive for some, and it can be quite hard to find - especially if you live outside of Spain or Portugal.
If you can find it in a specialty store - or even online through family-owned Spanish pig farms - there’s not a pork fan out there who wouldn’t enjoy a well-prepared cut of Secreto Iberico . A well kept, and impossibly delicious, Spanish secret.