Jamon Iberico and manchego are two iconic tapas in Spain.
Jamon Iberico de bellota is the king of cured ham. It comes from the black hoofed pigs that roam the ancient oak forests called dehasas along the border between Spain and Portugal.
The Iberico pig are the original swine of Spain. They are big with slender legs and a long snout. Iberico pigs are black with very little hair. They have black hooves which is the source of the phrase "Pata Negra". This distinguishing black hoof remains on the ham throughout the long curing process and distinguishes from other ham like the serrano.
The Iberico pigs are also much fatter animals which allows it to be cured much longer giving it a true distinguished flavor. "De belotta" indicates the diet of acorns another distinguishing element. After a long curing process the result is the most melt in your mouth bite of heaven, sweet, nutty and not too salty.
You will see Jamon Iberico hanging in every market in Spain. You can get a whole shoulder or a sample, I highly recommend you try it!
Jamon Iberico pairs perfectly with many Spanish cheeses but my favorite is Manchego.
Manchego comes from the La Mancha region of Spain. It is made from the milk of the sheep of the Manchega breed. It is a firm buttery cheese with a distinct flavor. Many well stocked grocery stores carry this cheese or you can pick some up here.
Simply slice up the Jamon Iberico and Manchego and serve on a wooden board it is the perfect way to start any meal. Oh, make sure you don't forget the olives.
If you would like to learn more about the beautiful and fascinating country of Spain be sure to check out Our Journey to Spain. There you will also find more tapas recipes like Garlic Shrimp, Octopus with Potatoes, Spanish Tortilla and more.
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