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Iberico Pigs - Pata Negra

El Cerdo Iberico - The Black Spanish Pig

The Jamon Iberico or Iberico Ham is the salted, cured and air dried ham of the black Spanish pig, also named Iberico pig or Pata Negra, from the Dehesa.

Image of the Spanish Dehesa with black Spanish Iberico pigs. The Spanish Dehesa, with Iberico pigs

Iberico Pigs and the Dehesa

The Dehesa is the hilly open woodland that is typical for the southwestern regions of Spain and the southeast of Portugal. In these wooded meadows, several species of oak (like brown oak and cork oak) play an important role.

(actually, the Dehesa looks a bit like the oak studded scenery in California between Bakersfield and Tehachapi, but then without the rattlesnakes and the Southern Pacific railroad)

Photo of Spanish Iberico pigs in the Dehesa. These Spanish Iberico pigs roam freely in the Dehesa, eating grass, herbs and acorns, and producing the best quality ham - the "Bellota"

It's the oak trees that connect the black Spanish hog with the Dehesa. Pigs love acorns, and almost every fall there will be enough acorns on the ground for the pigs to feast on. Every year the Iberico pigs will stuff themselves with acorns, and this special diet generates a remarkably high percentage of unsaturated fats in the Iberico meat.

Photograph of Spanish black hogs under an oak tree. Iberico black hogs in the shade of an oak tree

The Iberico Race - The Pata Negra

The Iberico pig is a half wild hog race that has been roaming the Iberic peninsula for ages. The Iberico hog is very agile and active, standing quite high on its legs. And these hogs have black hooves - that's how they got the nickname "pata negra".

Most Iberico hogs are some shade of dark grey, but brownish varieties do exist as well.

Spanish black Iberico pig.

A special quality of the Iberico pig is the ability to store fat in its muscle tissue, making for finely marbled and extra tender meat.

Head of Spanish Iberico pig. The head of the Iberico pig comes close to the head of the wild boar.

Travel to Spain?

We took these pictures in the summer of 2011 in the Dehesa between Ciudad Rodrigo and the towns of Béjar and Guijuelo, in the province of Salamanca. We highly recommend this area with its picturesque medieval towns and broad open landscapes to everybody who wants to get to know Spain a little better.

And, of course, the old city of Salamanca is a jewel as well.



Click HERE for more information about Iberico Ham or Pata Negra.

Pata Negra Tapas Suggestions:

Pata Negra (Jamon Iberico) on Long Bread Basque Pintxos: Iberico Ham (Pata Negra) on Long Bread

Basque Pintxos with Iberico Ham and Melon on Bread. Basque Pintxos: Iberico Ham and Melon





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