Top Spanish Ham, Now Found in the United States

The New York Times


November 1, 2011

Florence Fabricant

The top Spanish ham comes from purebred black-footed Ibérico pigs that feed on wild acorns. Now, for the first time, it is available in the United States. The brand with the most cachet is 5 Jotas, in business for more than 100 years. It took four years to get final approval from federal agencies. At present, the front-leg ham, called the paleta, above, is available. The hind legs, which take longer to cure, will be available in a few months. Slices of 5 Jotas are silky and rosy, with no sign of drying, and a flavor that’s irresistibly nutty-sweet, with succulent fat. Dehesa, another, less expensive brand — which says its hams are also from purebred Ibérico pigs, and are raised by members of Covap, a cooperative — will reach American stores in about two weeks. A preview sample of the Dehesa paleta was somewhat deeper in color than the 5 Jotas, but was also nut-sweet, satin-textured and mellow.

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