What is Pork Pluma?

Fresh pork pluma is a top-tier culinary delicacy that gets little press outside Spanish borders. You may know the country for its cured hams or smoky chorizos, but the other parts of the Ibérico pig are just as wondrous and have all the same nutty nuances and silky fat. Spain-side, pluma is one of the country's most coveted cuts of meat and is among one of the best cuts of pork in the world. Let's take a deep-dive to get a better understanding of this luxurious cut of pork. 

What is Pork Pluma? 

Ibérico pork pluma, which translates to "feather" in Spains, is the end loin of the Ibérico pig. It's the swine counterpart of the flank and comes from the back of the neck. Pluma has a triangular formroughly the size of a handand is richer in color than Secreto or Lomo, with remarkable intra-muscular fat and superb flavor. 

How To Cook Pork Pluma

All that balanced marbling, coupled with its thinness, makes pluma is a versatile and easy cut of meat to cook. Whether it's a quick flash the pan or a slow roast, a sprinkle of crunchy salt or bold marinade, pluma is so flavorful that it's always good. In other words, you can keep it simple or get creative and still enjoy this cut to the fullest. 

    • Searing for a few minutes a screamin' hot pan is the most common way to cook choice cuts of pork in Spain. The idea here is to cook it just a few minutes on either side (think pink and go medium, not well-done) and let the fat crisp and caramelize. A sprinkle of crunchy salt is all you need to bring out the nuances of this cut, and just enough to make all those Spanish abuelas proud. 
    • Grilling pluma ibérico is just as abuela-approved as a stovetop sear. Place it over direct flames for 3 minutes on each side until it gets that nice deep golden color. Then let it rest, slice, and go to town. 
    • Marinating pluma is an easy way to impart big flavors to the meat. And pluma's high fat content can actually handle the spice and acid of all sorts of marinades. Marinate the cut whole, or cut it into smaller pieces and chill for at least 2-3 hours in the fridge. 
    • Saucing up your piece of pluma is never a bad move. Whether it's a red pepper romesco or a silky sherry wine sauce, a little extra something can bring out all sorts of new porky flavors. 
    • Stewing an already tender piece of meat may seem uncommon, but no one will say no to an exceptionally rich and flavorful stewed pork. Whether its stewed in wine or stock, the rich fat will impart a luxurious texture to the broth. Grab a hunk of crusty bread for this oneyou won't want to waste a drop. 

Why Are Iberian Pigs So Special?

We can talk all day about how to best cook pluma, but as cookshome or professionalwe'd be nothing without the natural nuances of the Ibérico breed and the farmers who raise them.

Ibérico pigs have long been regarded as a luxury breed worldwide. Some of the best cured jamón rings it at a couple thousand dollars, and there's reason for it. 

Black Ibérico pigs, which are only found in the Iberian peninsula's (Spain and Portugal) southern and western areas, are actually descendants from wild boars and have much more muscle than fat than your average pig. They also store their fat in the actual muscle rather in thick layers outside the muscle. And that equates to loads of tasty intramuscular fat and even marbling. 

Their natural habitat is a sort of oak-laden meadow or pasture, known as a dehesaThe dehesa is abundant in olives, nuts, and berries, but mainly in acorns (bellotas), which are high in minerals and fatty acids. This is often referred to as the pig's superfood and is a big part of what gives the pluma its one-of-a-kind flavor. 

Today, the Spanish government heavily regulates how pigs are raised. The EU's Protected Designation of Origin program protects both how ham is produced and labeled, and how the pigs are raised. For example, no more than two pigs can occupy a hectare of grassland, giving them plenty of space to stretch their legs and access food. This natural habitat and hormone-free treatment is another important aspect to Ibérico's superior qualities. 

The Taste of Pork Pluma

Pluma pork is a wildly tender and super juicy cut worthy of any summer barbecue, Spanish-themed dinner, or a regular weeknight at home. The nutty, earthy flavors of Ibérico shine through with even the simplest cooking methods, and it's structured fat holds up to whatever saucy addition you're craving. Soft as a feather, and worlds away from any industrial cut of pork at the supermarket, pluma showcases the purest tastes of the Spanish dehesa. 

Ready to taste Ibérico pluma pork? Click here to get pluma and other stellar Ibérico cuts delivered straight to your door. 

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