The story of Spain’s famed Jamón Ibérico is one that rivals most fairy tales. To say this about a cured ham may cause confusion in most, but the romance and mystique behind these ancient swine is most worthy and is suitable for its place at the top of The Standard Grill’s menu.
The majestic black Ibérico originated many millennia ago in the southern part of Spain. With a robust figure, slender legs and a black hoof unique to its noble lineage, the Ibérico, as Chef Dan Silverman describes it, is “the King of Hams”.
The production process is complex, but simply put, the swine are raised and weaned off their mother’s milk and then fattened up on corn and maize. Once they have matured, they come face to face with the point in their lives where they take the road to kinghood or the road to uniformity. Let me explain…
It is at this point in the production of Ibérico when the pigs are set out into the fields to graze on grass and fallen acorns in the Fall and Winter. These pigs are the lucky ones. Their free range exercise and pure diet of acorns is what produces the finest quality ham, called Jamón Ibérico de Bellota (or acorn), perfectly marbling the meat and creating the most distinct balance of flavor. (Of course there are other lesser Ibéricos raised on grains and other consumer products, but we only deal with the best.)
Once the final process of fattening by acorn is finished, the pig is slaughtered and its legs are salted and hung to dry. Because of the high fat content, the Ibérico is then cured for as long as 36 months (where the lesser hams can be cured in six weeks). The fat is golden, the meat is ruby red, and the result is one of the most exquisite cured meats in the world.
The Standard Grill is located at 848 Washington Street. For reservations, please call 212-645-4100.