Bellota ham is a type of Iberico ham considered one of the greatest treasures of Spanish gastronomy. It is a unique product, prized worldwide for its exquisite taste and exceptional nutritional properties.
Iberian Bellota ham: a unique delicacy
Iberian acorn-fed ham owes its name to the breed of pigs from which it comes, the Iberian pigs, and their diet based on acorns (bellotas in Spanish). These animals roam freely in the oak pastures of the Iberian Peninsula, where they spend their days feeding on acorns, herbs, and roots. It is this natural diet, combined with the physical exercise the pigs get while foraging, that gives Iberian acorn-fed ham its melt-in-the-mouth texture and rich, nuanced flavour, slightly reminiscent of hazelnuts.
The production process of Iberian acorn-fed ham
The production of Iberian acorn-fed ham is a long and delicate process that requires artisanal expertise. After slaughter, the hams are first salted and then left to dry for several weeks. They are then washed to remove excess salt and left to dry again for several months. Then comes the ageing stage, which lasts at least two years and can extend up to four years. During this period, the hams are stored in natural caves where they undergo a series of chemical transformations that develop their distinctive aroma and flavor.
Nutritional properties of Iberian acorn-fed ham
Iberian acorn-fed ham is not only delicious but also highly nutritious. It is rich in high-quality proteins, vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6, iron, zinc, and phosphorus. Additionally, thanks to the pigs’ diet based on acorns, this ham contains a large amount of monounsaturated oleic acid, the same type of healthy fat found in olive oil.
How to enjoy Bellota ham?
To truly appreciate Iberian acorn-fed ham, it should be consumed at room temperature. This allows the thin slices to slightly melt, releasing all the richness of their aromas. It is traditionally served on its own, so that its complex flavour is not masked by other tastes. However, it can also be used to enhance the taste of many dishes, such as salads, soups, tapas, or even desserts. It pairs particularly well with sweet and fruity flavours, such as figs, apples, or melon.
Recipes with Bellota ham
Iberian acorn-fed ham, with its melt-in-the-mouth texture and incomparable flavour, is a versatile ingredient that can elevate many dishes.
– Iberian acorn-fed ham croquettes: these creamy croquettes are a delight for ham lovers. The combination of rich béchamel and finely chopped Iberian acorn-fed ham gives these little balls an exquisite taste;
– Iberian acorn-fed ham risotto: Iberian acorn-fed ham brings an intense flavour to this creamy risotto. Mushrooms can also be added to complement this comforting dish;
– Scrambled eggs with Iberian acorn-fed ham: a classic of Spanish cuisine. The eggs are slowly scrambled until creamy, then garnished with slices of Iberian acorn-fed ham.
Iberian acorn-fed ham is much more than just ham. It is a symbol of Spanish gastronomic culture, a tradition that is passed down from generation to generation. To taste Iberian acorn-fed ham is to savour an unmatched taste and be carried away by the passion of Spanish artisanal expertise.