The Iberico Ham Quest, Part 2- Enter the Dehesa with Revisan...
In the town of Guijuelo, where about 70% of the world’s production of Iberico ham can be found, we visited Revisan. Revisan is almost 100 year old but let's Alberto Gutiérrez explain to us their story...
THE COMPANY: Could you tell us a bit more about the history of your company and what, in your opinion, sets it apart from others?
Yolanda Martin & Augustin Revilla
The company started in 1925. Back then, Augustin’s grand-father was travelling through Spain, especially the Northern part, with a horse-drawn carriage, in order to exchange goods from one place to another. Back then, he was providing producers with spices and other ingredients they couldn’t find locally. At the same time, he started using some of these ingredients he had gathered along the way to produce chorizo & salchichón.
Nowadays, the company is ran by the 3rd & 4th generations of the same family. This heritage of traditions is what truly makes us special. Of course, we have increased our volumes of production but without industrializing the process to the point some
other actors of the market might have. Although we are a large producer in volumes, we stayed true to our traditions.
THE PRODUCTS: During our visit, we have seen (and eaten !) various incredible products : there was Iberian salchichón, lomo, lomito, chorizo, ham, sobresada, morcon… Could you please explain to our readers the differences between the many traditional products within the Iberian range & their particularities?
Around Guijuelo, we often like to say that with pigs, you can eat everything but the squeak (“del cerdo hasta los andares”), which genuinely explains that we use absolutely every single part of the animal.
For example, as traditional “embutidos” (cured meats), we find the lomo, chorizo & salchichón, but also the “perniles”, which are the jamón/cured ham (front leg) & paleta (rear leg).
On top of these specialties, you also find morcilla, sobresada, lomito, morcon and other delights. Every single one of them has a different recipe. For instance, chorizo & morcon both contain “Pimenton de la Vera », a Spanish PDO* type of paprika with a very peculiar taste, while Salchichon contains black peppercorn. What they all have in common is a natural and traditional curing process (air-dried).
*PDO: Protected Designation of Origin
THE PIGS & THEIR FOOD: For people to understand it better, could you please explain the different levels of quality that exist within the DO Guijuelo? (regarding iberian breed & others, and feeding methods…)
It’s not just about the DO Guijuelo, in fact it is more a generic legal frame regarding Iberico products. This frame is composed of two different parts: one is the breed of the animal, the other one its feeding.
For the breed part, we always need the female that gives birth to the piglets to be 100% Iberian breed, recorded in the genealogical book. From there, the male (father) can be three things:
100% Iberian piglet: the male has to be 100% Iberian breed too
75% Iberian piglet: the male is only 50% Iberian breed (on one side of his parents only). In this case, the piglet is a 75% Iberian breed (mother: 100% / father: 50%)
50% Iberian piglet: last case, the father is of Duroc breed (another breed): in this case the piglet is only 50% Iberian breed (from his mother)
The second part of the classification is based on the feeding. Once again, three tiers can be found within the classification:
De Bellota: The animal has been acorn-fed on the last 4 months of his life (usually from October/November to February/March). In this period, he is free to walk around the field (dehesa), developing a unique flavour profile in the meat as well as a more complex penetration & texture of the fat.
Cebo de Campo: The pig is fed with grain but is free to walk around the field, developing better aromas and a specific fat penetration/concentration in the meat.
Cebo: In this case, we are looking at a grange or farm, with large spaces for the animal that stay indoor and are fed with grain.
HOW TO EAT IT BEST ? Iberian cured meats are very high-quality products. Could you tell us how to eat them in the best conditions? For instance, how to cut the salchichon or chorizo, how to preserve the jamon longer, what temperature they should be served at…
The most important thing is the service temperature, because Iberico products are rich in oleic acids, especially the Iberico de bellota. This acid, which is present in acorns (as well as olive oil), is metabolised by the animal as it feeds.
"For the oleic acids to start spreading, the temperature has to be above 21˚C. You should never eat Iberico ham when it is cold. The ideal temperature is between 22˚C and 26˚C."
The other important thing, at the time of consumption, is to let the produce breathe a little. You shouldn’t take it out of its vacuum pack and eat it straight away. It needs to be aerated a little, for all the complex aromas and tastes to appear.
It’s also important for Iberico ham to be cut real thin. Although traditionally, in the countryside of Spain, you would have encountered thick slices that can be hard to chew on. The trend today is to cut it thinner, primarily because the products can be quite expensive and if you want to prepare a large plate using only 80-100 grams of Jamón, you need it to be cut thin. If you still cut it thick like back in the old days, the plate would easily weigh a kilo of ham!
How to preserve the leg of jamon? Ideally at room temperature, where the ham will keep maturing slowly. It goes the same with Salchichon or chorizo. For better conservation, we recommend keeping them in their vacuum bags. At the time of serving them, just slice them and let them breathe a little on a wooden board or plate, it’s as easy as this!
A big thanks to all Revisan Team for this amazing time!
Alberto, Carlos & Jose