Foodies go to nice lengths to get their lips on the world’s most interesting ham. However in the event you wouldn’t transport prize boar sperm from Portugal, make investments $200,000 to import your personal pigs, increase litters free vary on natural grains and imported acorns, and dry age their hind legs by hand for years—properly, then you definately’re not as obsessed as Rodrigo Duarte, proprietor and butcher at Caseiro e Bom.
The son of pig farmers in Portugal, Duarte grew up elevating and butchering hogs, however didn’t have the chance to open his personal place till he emigrated to Newark, New Jersey’s Portuguese enclave, the Ironbound district, the place he labored at a grocery store meat counter whereas saving for his personal butcher store. “I didn’t actually sleep again then,” Duarte says. “I labored lengthy shifts, then stayed up all night time making my very own sausages.”
In 2010, he purchased a bodega and transformed the again right into a smokehouse and each inch of ceiling house right into a pork lover’s paradise, dangling dozens of ham legs you need to duck beneath to method the counter. Then he purchased a farm the place he raised free-range home pigs, earlier than turning into the one individual in the USA ever allowed to import and breed true black Portuguese Alentejano hogs.
Why all of the fuss? Shut your eyes whereas a paper-thin slice of Duarte’s aged presunto (Portuguese for ham) dissolves over your tongue. As its marbleized fats melts, your style buds are bombarded with a variety of candy, buttery, nutty and savory flavors as advanced because the world’s most interesting wines or whiskeys. The extreme taste comes from the pigs themselves, an historical line of black hogs referred to as pata negra praised in writing two thousand years in the past.
The simplest comparability is to Spain’s well-known jamón Ibérico de bellota, which may promote for $4,500 a leg. However some assume Duarte’s New Jersey–crafted delicacy is even higher—he’s claimed high honors on the Charcuterie Masters worldwide competitors yearly since 2016. Now it’s on the menu of a few of New York and New Jersey’s most interesting eating places, with Duarte charging $499 a pound for a leg aged for 4 years. Gross sales elevated even throughout the pandemic.
“I’m not afraid of discovering prospects,” he says. “I’m afraid of making an attempt to maintain up with demand. I don’t wish to rush the method.”
Because of Duarte’s new on-line store (usapatanegra.com), you’ll be able to strive some with out schlepping to Newark. Slice it as skinny as potential, serve at room temperature and, in the event you should, pair with aged Manchego, crusty bread and a great bottle of wine or sherry-finished whiskey.
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