Saturday, May 30, 2015


I missed the “official opening” of the grilling season (Memorial Day is not a holiday in Spain), so I’m opening the season this week, celebrating the arrival of a new (used) charcoal/wood grill. 

Ben grills ibérico pork, asparagus, potatoes and mushrooms over charcoal.

At the supermarket I got a big hunk of Ibérico pork, fresh asparagus and a bag of charcoal. I had on hand onions and potatoes newly dug from the garden. To complete the menu I made a two-bean salad with green beans from the garden and a jar of kidney beans. 

Ibérico pork is raised to make the famed Ibérico hams and cured shoulders. Some of the other cuts are used for various kinds of sausages (chorizo, morcilla, salchichón, lomo, morcón). The remainder is marketed as fresh pork.

Ibérico pork, fresh and cured, comes from animals of the Ibérico breed.  What distinguishes this breed from regular porkers (such as Large White, Landrace and Duroc) is that they are very slow to mature, never reaching the size of hogs destined to be pork chops. The Ibérico breed, as it adapted to its habitat, acquired the unique characteristic of storing fat infiltrated in the flesh. The marbled meat is what makes it so juicy, the perfect meat for grilling.

The cut I bought was the presa, a thick, boneless slab from the shoulder, weighing about 1 ½ pounds. Even though this is not de bellota—acorn finished—it is naturally marbled with fat. It stays juicy and tender, so doesn’t need brining.

Cut of ibérico pork called presa, rubbed with garlic and herbs.

I chose to give the piece of meat a rub of chopped garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage, salt and a spoonful of vinegar and allow it to set at room temperature for one hour.

Son Ben was the grill master—he’s had lots of experience. We tucked foil-wrapped onions into the embers, placed asparagus, par-boiled potatoes and mushrooms right on the grill with the meat.

Ready to flip the meat? Note foil-wrapped whole onions are roasted in the embers under the grill.
Smoke, the added flavor. Next time, we'll try an olive-wood fire instead of using charcoal.

Let meat set 5 minutes before carving.

Serve ibérico pork medium rare, like beef. We decided this was a little too bloody. After carving off the ends, we put it back on the grill for another few minutes.

Salad on the side--green beans from the garden, red kidney beans, cherry tomatoes, chopped onions with an olive oil-yogurt dressing.

Some sauces that would go nicely with the pork and potatoes: Fig Salsa, Quince Sauce, Green Chile Sauce.

Fresh ibérico pork cuts are available in the US from and .

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