Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Probably The Best Ham In The World



Last week I was very fortunate to have collaborated on a dinner with Jorge Ordonez, the human dynamo of the Spanish Wine World. Our dinner was priced at $450 per person. Now I always strive for perfection regardless of what I am charging for a plate, but when a five course dinner is being prepared for just under $100 a plate, I don't care who you are the pressure is on!

Something that made the dinner extra special was the addition of 2 items that are probably known as the best ham products in the world.

1. Chorizo De Bellota: Made by Jose Gomez at Joselito Bellota acorn fed ibérico cured chorizo in natural casing
sweet nutty flavor & melting quality, slightly smokey

2. Gran Reserva Bellota Jamon: Jose Gomez at Joselito
Sweet, nutty, complex and rich, melting acorn oil and a long lingering aftertaste

Jorge Ordonez was kind enough to bring us each of these products to use at the dinner ( 16 people) and take it with us after we were done!

To make the ultimate ham and charcuterie you need - animals, land, charcutiers, curing chambers, the perfect dry climate. The people at Joselito control the whole cycle of production and have all the above.

The unique climate of Guijuelo helps create sweet, long-cured hams. The winters are cold so less salt is needed in the first stages than in the south.

Joselito own more land in Spain than any other ibérico producers.

Pigs eat grain when they are first born, until they reach 4 months which is when they are released into the wild to forage for food. However, Joselito even own their own pienso factory to produce high quality grain feed, rather than use what is industrially available.

Joselito pigs also live longer than most ibérico pigs, seeing two montaneras – one as a piglet then one as an adult. They are therefore not speed-fed artificially, which results in weaker bones and muscle. It takes around 5 years for a piglet to reach your plate at Joselito compared to an average of 3 or less for other hams.

Joselito are able to produce the crème de la crème by choosing the best pigs and allocating them to the best farms: most producers do not have this luxury.

Price you ask........if you ask me priceless.

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