Presa pork is a cut of meat taken from between the shoulder and loin of the pig. It’s an oval-shaped cut of meat that’s incredibly tender and well-marbled.
It’s thick and flavorful, with a rich juicy texture and lean marbling.
Where Does Presa Pork Come From?
Presa pork comes from the acorn-fed free-range Iberico pigs, raised in Spain.
They lead quite a decadent life for a meat pig, which is key to its incredible flavor. They’re raised free-range and spend their days munching grass and acorns. This diet is what gives the Presa its complex flavor and “melt in your mouth” texture.
What is the Difference Between Presa Pork and Iberico?
There’s actually not much of a difference. Presa pork is Iberico.
Presa is cut from Iberico pigs, from the oval muscle between the shoulders and the loin. It’s one of three very special cuts of meat from these special pigs.
Presa pork cut is thicker than the other two, with fantastic marbling and a gorgeous texture.
Presa, Pluma, and Secreto are the three stand-out Iberico cuts, all are cut from around the shoulder.
Though these three cuts are popular in Spain and highly sought after the world over these days, they’re not always easy to find. Because Iberico pork comes from a very specific pig raised in Spain, they’re exorbitantly priced and difficult to find.
Presa, Pluma, and Secreto are all cuts found on any pig, not just the special Iberico. But butchering comes down to culture, so what gets taken from the pigs isn’t universal. These cuts may be very special, but they’re not sold everywhere.
How to Cook Pork Presa
Prepping the Pork
To begin, you’ll need to get your pork to room temperature, no matter the cooking method you’ll be employing.
Next, you’ll need to grab your dry rub, if you’ll be using any. Presa is a flavorful cut of meat, so a whole lot of seasonings or sauces isn’t recommended. You can drown out the natural flavor of the pork this way, and it can even risk entirely ruining the dish.
If you’re gonna make a sauce to go with the pork, you can’t go wrong with Cafe de Paris butter.
How to Make Cafe de Paris Butter
- Using a food processor, beat the butter for a few minutes until it’s reached a creamy texture.
- Add chopped garlic, shallots, anchovies, mustard, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce - plus any spices you’d like to add - and blend until combined
- If you’re making this in advance, you can store them as rolled-up “logs” on wax paper. You simply dab some of the mixture onto the paper and roll it up, twisting the ends like a roll of taffy. You can store them in the fridge.
Cooking the Pork Presa
Now that you’ve got your pork cut, and your seasonings, in order it’s time to get cooking.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a medium-sized skillet or pan.
- Fry the Presa for 4-5 minutes on each side. The Presa is a high-quality cut, so it can safely be consumed a little pink. If you like steak medium-rare, give it a try here.
- After cooking, remove the Presa from the heat and let it rest for 2 minutes. If you’re cutting it, transfer it to a cutting board before resting.
- Optional: if you’re melting butter with your Presa, you can place it in the oven to let it melt. Don’t overdo this step, because you absolutely can overcook your pork and ruin it.
- Set the grill to high heat.
- Add rosemary sprigs to the fire - if you’re wanting a bit of unique smoky flavor.
- Grill for 4-5 minutes on each side - the internal temperature must be at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare.
- Remove from the heat and set on a cutting board to rest for 2 minutes.
- Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
- Preheat the oven to 374 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Meanwhile, chop the larger lumps of fat and sinew off the pork.
- Season the meat - with any cut from the Iberico pigs, less is more. Don’t overpower your cut with too much added flavor, just let it speak for itself.
- Fry the Presa in a smoking-hot skillet, 4 minutes on each side. This helps seal in the moisture for a more juicy texture.
- Place in the oven and roast for roughly 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
- Remove from the oven once the desired doneness is reached.
- Wrap in foil to rest for 15 minutes.
- Unwrap and serve with your choice of sides.
Though Presa pork cuts may be difficult to find depending on where you live, they’re definitely worth keeping an eye out for. They’re available both in farmer's markets and grocery stores, and online from registered Iberico farmers.
The price might be off-putting, but if you get the chance to try it at least once, do yourself a favor and indulge. It’ll change the way you think about pork.