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Iberico Pork Ribs - Do They Stand The Test

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    Iberico Pork Ribs - Do They Stand The Test

    Been wanting to try some Iberico pork from Spain for quite some time. I usually covet the cooks that Henrik does when he smokes a cut from one of these world renowned pigs. Whenever I got the urge to follow suit, I'd look at the price and felt it was a little too steep for my budget. This time; however, I caught a sale at an on line meat purveyor in Seattle called Marx Foods so decided to give some ribs a try. As a side note, Marx Foods has an excellent service. Your overnight shipping is free with any order, you pick the day and boom, you get your meat! Very prompt compared to some we've witnessed.
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    So what exactly is Iberico pork?

    To be honest I didn't know much so did a little reading up on this animal. They are a variety of free range pigs that are only native to the Iberian Peninsula (which consists of Spain and Portugal). As a breed they are said to be ancient in origin, their ancestors probably roamed parts of Europe and the Middle East for the better part of 12,000 years. It's a large breed of pig, somewhat tan, gray or red in color with spindly legs.

    What makes these pigs special and so highly coveted is their diet and how their body processes food. As I mentioned they are generally free ranging so they tend to be leaner than our domesticated pig. They forage on various grasses, bugs, nuts and mushrooms but in the fall, they gorge themselves on acorns found in the oak forests (or dehesa) found throughout the region.

    The result can be noticed when you first open a package and see the meat. It's first of all very fatty (more on that in a minute) with the meat itself being reddish in color. It almost looks like beef back ribs instead of the pale tan color of our pork. Because of their natural environment and this particular diet, they definitely have a nuttier flavor to the meat. I found it to be quite delicious.

    As to the fat, I did not know and was quite surprised to learn that the genetics of this animal produces fat the same way as the Japanese Wagyu cattle do. In fact they sometimes refer to this breed as the Wagyu of pork. The pig's body converts what they eat into a monounsaturated fat consisting largely of Oleic acid (same as found in olive oil for instance). You can literally feel it melting between your fingers with a gentle rub of a small piece of it. Needless to say, the health benefits over other fatty pork, is another reason for superiority.

    There's also a LOT of fat, both intra and intermuscular. I ended up cutting about a quarter pound of the surface fat off each rack, it just didn't seem very appealing. Here are my racks after a 24 hour dry brine;
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    How did they cook?

    I was a little concerned about a couple of things. First (and maybe it was the particular ones I ordered) these were really thin, with no where near the amount of meat we're used to on domesticated pork. That is somewhat to be expected on a free range animal I suppose. The other concern was the amount of fat and how that would render (or really over render) while cooking, leaving the meat dry.

    So I cooked them low and slow. I set my Fireboard and fan to 225* and held it there throughout the cook. I spritzed with apple cider vinegar every 45-60 munities. When I got 3 hours in they looked really good, great color, but needed a bit more tenderizing. I wrapped them in foil for the last 30 minutes and let them rest in my oven foiled while I finished the rest of the meal.

    Came out perfect, awesome bark, with that nutty taste I described above. The fat felt a lot like eating Wagyu, an almost oily feel rather than a fatty feel in your mouth or on you fingers, if you know what I mean. For flavor and overall eating experience I would defiantly rate them as high, or higher than even the best Berkshire or Duroc pork I've ever had.

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    So what's the downside?

    Are these ribs (or other cuts) really worth the bother to source? I would say it depends. My biggest complaint was the thinness of the meat on the ribs. Normally I'd eat maybe 4-5 ribs from a St. Louis rack of Berkshire, my normal pork rib rack. These I gobbled up at least 6-8 to get the same about of meat satisfaction. The price can be a bit steep as well. These on sale were right at $10/pound delivered to my door. Obviously that's quite a bit more than even Berkshire or Duroc. Considering the weight of the bones, that puts the cost right up there with American Wagyu beef for sure.

    So was the bang for the buck there, was it worth sourcing these little gems? I say, hell ya !! I'm not going to make them my main squeeze but I did order 6 racks so I get to enjoy these at least two more times before I have to decide. But bottom line, they are a very good product for the money with my source supplier being top notch.

    I can't wait to try some other cuts. They break down the shoulder muscles into the pluma, the prima and the secreto cuts. The tenderloin is called the solomillo. Also available are the familiar rib cuts and the belly where pancetta is derived. If you get the opportunity, I would encourage you to give these a try. I think you'll find them well worth the effort and expense.

    Troutman is out, need to get back to gorging on Iberico ribs !!!

    Great write up. I really appreciated the history lesson too. I have yet to try these ribs, but I will have to put them on my list to try.

    My uncle is a semi retired hog farmer. Now he just raises hogs for local people and some organic finishers. His are all free range and they feast on acorns, grasses, gourds, pumpkins and whatever else they can find in the 185 Acres my uncle has set aside for them. The meat is excellent and full of fat. After slaughter the meat is really dark red, like what pork used to look like back in the day, before the whole "other white Meat" debacle.


    • Troutman
      Troutman commented
      Editing a comment
      The pig needs to get back to the animal it once was. Even if it means less meat, if you can get the proper fat content and better quality meat, it's so worth paying a bit more.

    • Henrik
      Henrik commented
      Editing a comment
      I agree with y’all on so many levels - that old school, free range pork is da bomb.

    Coincidentally, Marx has the iberico spares on sale right now... mmmm https://www.marxfoods.com/Iberico-Spare-Ribs $153 for about 14lbs. But the sampler is actually calling my name:

    4 Iberico Pork Tenderloin (Solomillo)
    2 Iberico Pork St. Louis Spare Ribs (Tira Costilla)
    2 Iberico Pork End Loins (Pluma)
    1 Iberico Pork Striploin (Lomo)
    Last edited by rickgregory; March 14, 2021, 11:22 AM.


      Skewered asparagus, Great Idea, thanks, I got some to grill with beer-can chicken.
      The wife of mine actually bought me some PBR first beer of the year and it's not even summer.
      Happy grilling to all of you.
      Last edited by bbqLuv; March 14, 2021, 05:30 PM.


        I really want to buy some but I have ZERO freezer space right now, overflow is at my office in the top freezers of our refrigerators.


        • Troutman
          Troutman commented
          Editing a comment
          Easy solution, buy the ribs and cook them once they arrive.

        Great writeup Troutman! Glad you got to try them. I think your description is pretty spot on. The one thing that differs from my experience is that there's typically more meat on these than the ordinary Swedish "shiners".

        I've tried the pork belly, but it was almost too much fat for me. The other cuts are true gems. You really need to give the Secrecto a try, that cut is pure magic.


        • Troutman
          Troutman commented
          Editing a comment
          Yea I have my eye on the secreto for sure. They say that's the best. The prep on your website looks amazing !!

        I agree, great write up. I cooked a rack of Iberico riba a couple of weeks back with excellent input from Henrik after my son-in-law (we split an order from Marx Foods) found his to be slightly dry & over salted due to the thinner nature of the ribs as you described. I following Henrik's method & used his KC Royale Pork & Poultry rub. My cooked paralleled your cook pretty much to the letter and I would agree with your assessment. I was surprised that the cook took almost 5 hours given the thin nature of the ribs. I felt mine, while tasty, were a bit tight, which I contribute to not wrapping. I will correct that mistake on my second and last remaining rack.


          Cool write up as always.
          As an enthusiastic pork lover I am however left feeling a little dejected. I doubt I will ever get to experience all you so tantalizingly describe.
          Maybe one day though 👌


            Great info here. As I mentioned above......great write up, I just went through it again. Really interesting. Thanks for sharing this with us.


              Marx has a good summary of the cuts that they sell and how they view the differences. https://www.marxfoods.com/test-kitchen-iberico-pork
              Last edited by rickgregory; March 16, 2021, 07:09 PM.


                Is this Marx place the best place to source this cut? I have never seen it local.


                • rickgregory
                  rickgregory commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Marx is where Troutman got his. I don't know of other places to get it, though there must be some. One good thing about Marx is the overnight shipping included in the price which eliminates some of the worry

                This is the cut I have been drooling over too...added to wish list.

                Troutman Thanks for the awesome post.


                  I just ran across this thread and thought I'd weigh in. I too have purchased the Iberico pork (ribs, rack of pork, secreto) from Marx and consider it the very best pork I've ever had. Yes, the ribs are smaller, but the flavor is unbeatable. I've tried Duroc, Mangalitsa, and Cheshire pork and this stuff tops them all. Bang for the buck this stuff isn't. That honor goes to the Cheshire pork; big portions and really good flavor. If you're looking for the wagyu of pork, this is it!


                    Right now the Iberico ribs are $229 for 5 racks, about 14 lbs. That’s a little steep, but I also don’t see it coming down. I might order some for Father’s Day.

                    Edit: The Cheshire site in NC has 6 full racks (with tips and brisket), 30lb average order weight, for $202. That might be the ticket.
                    Last edited by Mosca; June 8, 2021, 08:03 AM.


                    • rickgregory
                      rickgregory commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Remember t hat Marx includes shipping, will let you pick day and uses next day delivery. So there's less chance of heat getting to it, etc.

                    • Mosca
                      Mosca commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Thanks for the reminder. I’m going to wait until next week when the weather will be about 15* cooler, and I can get them for Father’s Day. In the meantime I’ll eat all the ribs I have in the freezer to make room for these. I should not forget that there is no reason to not get all of them, as long as there is room for everything.

                    I have two racks left from my original purchase still sitting in the freezer. They are super flavorful and wagyu like but as stated over and over, they are expensive. Sort of an every once in a while kind of thing.



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