Are you a fan of Spanish cuisine? Do you love indulging in the rich and flavorful taste of Jamón Ibérico?
If you’re in Chicago and looking to satisfy your cravings for this signature ham made from Ibérico breed pork, you’re in luck!
In this article, we’ll explore where to find the best Iberico ham in Chicago. From pasture-raised to acorn-fed, we’ll guide you through the different types of Iberico ham available and where to buy them.
So sit back, relax, and get ready to discover the best places to buy this delicious delicacy in the Windy City.
Where Can I Buy Iberico Ham In Chicago?
1. La Tienda
Located in the heart of Chicago, La Tienda is a specialty store that offers a wide range of Spanish products, including Iberico ham. They slice imported pasture-raised Iberico ham to ensure the freshest taste possible. The slices are interleaved for easy separation, and they use only all-natural hams with no added nitrates or nitrites.
Eataly is a popular Italian marketplace that also offers a selection of Spanish products, including Iberico ham. They source their ham from Spain and offer both pasture-raised and acorn-fed varieties. You can purchase pre-sliced or whole hams at their Chicago location.
3. Publican Quality Meats
If you’re looking for a local butcher shop that offers high-quality Iberico ham, look no further than Publican Quality Meats. They source their ham from Spain and offer both pasture-raised and acorn-fed varieties. You can purchase pre-sliced or whole hams at their Chicago location.
4. The Spanish Square
The Spanish Square is a specialty store that offers a wide range of Spanish products, including Iberico ham. They source their ham from Spain and offer both pasture-raised and acorn-fed varieties. You can purchase pre-sliced or whole hams at their Chicago location.
What Is Iberico Ham?
Iberico ham is a type of cured ham that comes from the Iberico pig, a breed that is native to Spain. These pigs are known for their slender legs, long snouts, and black color with very little hair. They are also much fatter than other pig breeds, with veins of fat running through the muscle. This fat content allows the hams to be cured for longer periods, resulting in a more complex and intense flavor with a hint of sweetness.
It’s important to note that not all Iberico pigs are raised in the same way. While some are allowed to roam free and feed on acorns in the Dehesa, others are raised on feed like corn. The ultimate Iberico ham is made from acorn-fed pigs, also known as Jamon Iberico de Bellota. This type of ham is twice as expensive as regular Iberico ham but is considered the ultimate delicacy.
When purchasing Iberico ham, it’s recommended to opt for hand-sliced over machine-sliced ham as master carvers can properly distribute the fat among the entire piece. Additionally, only buy ham that’s been vacuum-sealed. There are different cuts of Iberico ham, each with its own distinctive aroma, flavor, and texture. The meat from the top third of the ham is soft and juicy while the bottom part features a more fibrous and firm-bodied consistency. The rarest cut comes from a small area next to the ankle and requires a skilled carver to extract it from around the bone.
In Chicago, you can find Iberico ham at specialty stores like La Tienda and The Spanish Square or at local butcher shops like Publican Quality Meats. These stores offer both pasture-raised and acorn-fed varieties, pre-sliced or whole hams for purchase.
Types Of Iberico Ham
When it comes to Iberico ham, there are four different types to choose from, categorized primarily by the diet of the pigs. The highest quality and most sought-after type is the Jamón ibérico de bellota, which comes from pure Iberico pigs that are fed on a diet of acorns during the Montanera and granted DO status. These hams are aged for at least three years before being released and often labeled ‘reserva’ and ‘gran reserva’ to denote their age. The taste of this ham is rich and nutty, with a lingering flavor that is often compared to that of a fine wine.
The next type is the Jamón ibérico de recebo, which is fed on a diet of cereals and acorns and aged for at least three years. This type of ham has a slightly less intense flavor than the bellota variety but is still considered high-quality.
The Jamón ibérico cebo de campo is free-range but fed only on a diet of cereals. This type of ham has a slightly milder flavor than the other types but is still considered to be of good quality.
Finally, there is the Jamón ibérico de cebo, which comes from commercially reared pigs that are fed on a diet of cereals. This type of ham is the most widely available and affordable but is still considered to be of good quality.
When purchasing Iberico ham, it’s important to note that the acorn-fed varieties are generally considered to be of higher quality and have a more intense flavor than those fed solely on cereals. Additionally, the age of the ham can also affect its flavor and texture, with older hams having a deeper color and richer taste.
The Best Iberico Ham Brands In Chicago
If you’re looking for the best Iberico ham brands in Chicago, you have several options to choose from. La Tienda is a popular choice for those seeking high-quality Iberico ham. They offer imported pasture-raised ham that is sliced fresh to ensure the best taste possible. Another great option is Eataly, which sources their ham from Spain and offers both pasture-raised and acorn-fed varieties. Publican Quality Meats is a local butcher shop that sources their Iberico ham from Spain and offers both pasture-raised and acorn-fed varieties. Lastly, The Spanish Square is a specialty store that offers a wide range of Spanish products, including Iberico ham. They source their ham from Spain and offer both pasture-raised and acorn-fed varieties. No matter which brand you choose, make sure to do your research and ask the necessary questions to ensure you’re getting the highest quality Iberico ham possible.
How To Store And Serve Iberico Ham At Home
Once you’ve purchased your Iberico ham, it’s important to know how to store and serve it at home to ensure the best flavor and freshness.
Firstly, it’s important to note that a whole leg of Iberico ham doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Instead, it should be stored on its jamonero or ham-holder, away from direct heat or sunlight. If you don’t have a jamonero, a cool and dry place like a wine cellar or clean basement will suffice. However, if you’ve purchased vacuum-sealed packs of hand-carved Iberico ham, these should be stored in the fridge.
It’s crucial not to freeze Iberico ham as it is delicate and will lose its flavor and texture. Spaniards cured ham as a means of preservation before refrigeration or freezers, so there’s no need to double up on preservation methods.
When storing a whole bone-in Iberico ham, keep it in a cool, dry, and ventilated location either resting in a holder or hung by the rope. To preserve the freshness, moisture, and flavor of your ham as it is consumed, always cover the sliced area with plastic wrap or a bit of the removed fat layer after slicing. If the meat has been left exposed to the air for some time, discard the first slice of the exposed area as it will be dry and tough. On the other hand, boneless Iberico ham needs to be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic wrap or butcher paper.
When serving Iberico ham, always let it come to room temperature before serving to bring out its full flavor. Unwrap the ham and cover the exposed meat with some slices of its own fat. Change the fat slices when they start to dry out or turn yellowish. Cover the cut area with plastic wrap and then cover it with a cloth to protect it from light. If there is any mold formation on the surface of the ham, remove it with a cloth and some olive oil.
Iberico Ham Recipes To Try At Home
If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some delicious Iberico ham, you may be wondering what to do with it. Here are some recipe ideas to try at home:
1. Iberico Ham Croquettes – These crispy and creamy croquettes are a popular Spanish tapa. Mix together mashed potatoes, chopped Iberico ham, garlic, parsley, and egg yolks. Form into small balls and roll in breadcrumbs before frying until golden brown.
2. Iberico Ham and Manchego Cheese Toast – Top a slice of crusty bread with thinly sliced Iberico ham and a generous amount of grated Manchego cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
3. Iberico Ham and Fig Skewers – Thread sliced figs and Iberico ham onto skewers and brush with honey. Grill until the ham is crispy and the figs are caramelized.
4. Iberico Ham and Melon Salad – Combine cubed ripe melon with thinly sliced Iberico ham, arugula, and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
5. Iberico Ham and Egg Breakfast Sandwich – Fry an egg and place it on top of a slice of toasted bread with a few slices of Iberico ham. Top with arugula or spinach for some greens.
No matter how you choose to enjoy it, Iberico ham is a delicious addition to any meal.