[July 14 Edit: The previously reported prices for the chorizo and salchichón are for 2-pound packages, not per pound. That makes these products far more tempting, doesn't it? Thank you NS of SF Gourmet for pointing out my error!]
The day that Spanish food lovers have been anxiously awaiting is finally here! The finest cured pork products produced on this planet are now available in the United States.
All photos are of the chorizo ibérico de bellota produced by Joselito, which is not the supplier of the products being imported into the U.S.*
In yesterday's New York Times, Florence Fabricant reported that Americans can now purchase Spanish ibérico pork products from the on line Spanish food retailer La Tienda. Thanks to a the joint efforts of the founder of La Tienda, Donald Harris, and one of my favorite chefs, José Andrés (of the restaurants Jaleo, Cafe Atlantico, minibar, and several others in Washington, D.C.), we can currently buy chorizo, salchichón (closer to salami), and, my personal favorite, lomo (pork loin cured with pimentón, Spanish paprika) made from the ibérico breed of pig that is native to Spain. Some time in the next 2 years, when the hams have had
9 to 12 22-28 months to cure, the fabled jamón ibérico will also become available (at long last!).
A few years ago, the U.S. government decided to lift its ban on the import of products made from Spain's ibérico pig (free trade - what's that?). However, American-based Spanish food lovers (meaning yours truly) have had to wait until a special slaughterhouse was built upon which the U.S.D.A. would deign to bestow it approval. (I imagine that the number of Spaniards that have suffered horrible jamón-related deaths because their slaughterhouses weren't up to American standards is equal to the number of French casualties attributed to eating unpasteurized Epoisses de Bourgogne. Zero. Don't get me started!).
Each type of embutido (the Spanish equivalent of the French word charcuterie or Italian salumi) is being imported in two versions. While both come from the meat of the ibérico breed of pig, which is also known as pata negra after the pigs' characteristic black hooves, a portion of the new imports is coming from those lucky free-range pigs whose diet is rich in acorns (bellotas) and thus bear the additional modifier de bellota. Interestingly, tests have shown that 50% of the lipid (fat) profile of the jamón ibérico de bellota is monounsaturated, the same healthy type as found in olive oil.