SCOOP – New Pig In Town: “Ibérico” Arrives in Atlanta

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*Editor’s Note 12/18/09: The original version of this post included some mis-information regarding the origin of the pork, as well as the the recipients of this product in Atlanta. I was contact by a representative of Inland Seafood informing me of the mistakes and this version of the post includes the corrections.*

So, it looks like there is some new pork in town.

I just got word from the crew at Concentrics restaurants that Chef Nick Melvin of Parish and everyone’s favorite Top Chef contestant, Kevin Gillespie, have gotten their hands on some “Ibérico” pork.

Traditionally, Ibérico pork comes from free-range pigs that roam the oak forests along the border between Spain and Portugal, but this is not really what makes the pigs unique. The difference comes from the way the animals are fed in their final days. The pigs eat nothing but acorns and chestnuts for the final 90 days of their lives. According to Melvin, the result is “a perfectly marbled pork shoulder that is sweet, nutty and unlike any pork that anybody in this city is serving.”

The particular “Ibérico” that has arrived in our fair city actually comes from Eden Farms in State Center, Iowa, by way of Inland Seafood. This is remarkable because the pigs have been raised according to the Ibérico method, but with prized Berkshire pigs instead of the traditional Black Iberian Pig. While the first Berkshire Hogs were discovered in the 1600’s in the UK, the pure bred, acorn finished Berkshires produced by Eden Farms are 100% product of the USA. This incredibly unique product was the brainchild of Herb Eckhouse of La Quercia and Kelly Biensen of Eden Farms. Eckhouse produces American Proscuitto from all-natural hogs and approached Biensen with the idea of acorn finishing true Berkshire hogs. The combination of the Ibérico method and the exceptional taste and tenderness of the Berkshire pig is extremely promising. So, while not technically Ibérico pork, it is essentially the same thing. Sort of like the relationship between Wagyu and Kobe beef.

So that I don’t have to continue using quotations, I’m going to invent a new word: Ibérkshirco. That should keep me out of any copyright infringement troubles, right?

When most folks think of Ibérico, they think of the cured Jamón Ibérico (Ibérico Ham) which can be procured at Star Provisions (See Blissful Glutton’s post on the subject here). But what has now come to town is not the traditional ham, which is usually cured for 24-36 months, but instead the fresh pork meat, which will be transformed into a much wider array of piggy delicacies.

In addition to Woodfire Grill and Parish, Atlanta’s Cakes & Ale, Pura Vida and Eno by Zaza also acquired product from the same hogs. Some of the other restaurants in the country to get in on the Ibérkshirco action are some no-name chefs such as…Thomas Keller, Donald Link of Herbsaint in NoLa, and Blackberry Farms in Tenn. So, we are definitely in good company on this one.

I’m not sure what Gillespie’s and the others’ plans are for their newfound pigs, but Chef Melvin will be offering an Ibérkshirco special for the next few days, or until supplies run out. This FRIDAY and SATURDAY night ONLY, Parish is offering it as a Cracklin’ “Iberico” Pork Shoulder with Hakeurei and Chestnut Gratin, Noring Farms Garlic Braised Mustards, Sherry and Pork Reduction for $29.00.

Given my passionate love affair with all things pork, I plan on heading down to Parish tomorrow to check out the goods and will report back on if it lives up to the hype. Stay tuned!

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