The Ham made from the Alentejo Pork, also known as Iberian Ham (pata negra), is exclusive to the Iberian Peninsula, the pig’s natural habitat being the Alentejo Region. Unique to this species, it has a peculiarity in its genetics: large quantities of lipids can be stored in its muscle mass; these lipids come from the oil of the acorns on which it feeds almost exclusively. It is these lipids that give the ham a marble effect through the meat’s white veins, producing a ham with its own particular brightness and colour.
The unparalleled quality of the product is due to the diet and living of the Alentejo pork. The diet is based on acorns, complemented with fresh shoots, roots and herbs, which guarantee the excellence of the meat. The pigs walk across the Montado region of Alentejo in search of food, where there are large areas of lowlands and rolling hills. The constant exercise gives the animal a strong bone structure and strong muscles.
Subsequently, the long production cycle of the ham is another of it's great secrets. The curing process – salting, resting and aging (maturing) – lasts for several months.
The ham can be used in many different types of recipes, but the best way to enjoy it is the most simple, with fresh bread and wine, a highly recommendable way to start a meal. For this it should be finely sliced, almost transparent, keeping a small piece of fat along the edge.
The ham is a source of protein with a high biological value; it can replace meats with nutrient deficiencies such as fresh beef, mutton and pork. More than half of pork fats are composed of unsaturated fatty acids, the same presented in olive oil and oily fish.