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Secreto de Bellota

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  • DavePruett
    Club Member
    • Jan 2018
    • 23

    Secreto de Bellota

    A couple of weeks ago I saw a YouTube video in which something called "secreto" (Spanish for "secret") was being grilled. I had never heard of it, so I did some research. Not a lot of information on YouTube or Google. It is a thin cut of pork from the shoulder that comes from the famous acorn-fed, heritage pigs in Spain ("bellota" is Spanish for acorn). In one video, it was pan fried and in a couple of others it was grilled. Seasonings were just S&P. One video added smoked Spanish paprika and said that's how they do it in Spain. Another source said it was like "Wagyu pork"—very well marbled.

    I had to try it and found it for sale at latienda.com, an excellent online source for Spanish products. It is $60 a lb and comes in a 1 lb package,
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    There were two pieces in the vacuum-sealed package that arrived frozen.

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    They look a lot like the most wildly marbled skirt steaks you have ever seen.

    I did not want to just throw them on the grill, as the thickness varied from about ⅛" to about 1¼". Grilling seemed like a loser unless you like part of your meat burned and part raw.
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    The only thing I could think of to handle that kind of variation was sous vide, followed by a quick trip to the grill.

    Now all I had to to was figure out how to season it. I decided to cut each steak in half and try 4 variations.
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    Upper left is S&P only. Upper right: S,P,G & smoked paprika. Lower left: S & Meathead's Memphis Dust. Lower right: Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub.

    I gave them a 3 hour dry brine in the refrigerator. Note that I trimmed off some of the excess surface fat before seasoning. One of my concerns was that the fat melted pretty easily, even in my hand as I was trimming. Would it all melt in the sous vide? I usually sous vide pork loin or pork tenderloin to 140℉. I dialed down to 135, thinking I'd get more cooking on the grill. I gave them 45 min in the sous vide.

    The meat looked great coming out of the water bath. Well, as great as any meat looks coming out of sous vide, which is pretty bad, but it had firmed up and felt properly cooked. On to the grill for about 60-90 sec on each side.
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    The sections are laid out in the same order as before cooking.

    The verdict: this is an amazing piece of pork! It is, in fact, very much like eating high-grade Japanese Wagyu. It is incredibly rich and has an intense pork flavor. Expensive, but much less expensive than genuine Japanese Wagyu.

    As to the seasonings, they all worked. It's just a matter of what flavor profile you prefer. Not surprisingly, seasoning with just S&P let the pork flavor really shine through. Just the little smoke it picked up from a short time on the grill was all that was needed.

    Added the G and smoked paprika worked great, G was pretty subtle, but the smokiness and subtle sweetness of the paprika added a lot. (This is supposed to be the preferred seasoning in Spain.)

    Not surprisingly, Meathead's Memphis dust added whole new layers of savory complexity. Pork flavor still came through, but on more-or-less equal terms with the flavors of the rub.

    The Killer Hog BBQ Rub was noticeably sweeter, which was not a bad thing with the richness of the pork.

    Sous vide is definitely a great choice for the main cook. I think even a 10th Degree Black Belt Jedi Grill Master would have a hard time dealing with the tremendous variation in thickness. Maybe a very low, slow smoke?

    If anyone has more experience and knowledge of this cut, I'd love to hear it. It is definitely a luxury, but I will order it again once in a while. I'd only serve 2-4 oz as an appetizer because of the richness, then maybe some awesome BBQ beef.
    Attached Files
  • treesmacker
    Club Member
    • May 2018
    • 824
    • Grants Pass OR
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    #2
    Great info. Looks delicious. I'd have a hard time paying $60 a pound for any cut of meat, just like I wouldn't pay $100 for a bottle of wine. Just can't imagine, since so many lower cost wines and meats are sooo good why i would pay so much. If I win the lottery, maybe. Though, I appreciate you trying this and sharing! Thanks! Great pics!

    Comment


    • DavePruett
      DavePruett commented
      Editing a comment
      I get you! $60 a pound is a budget buster for non-millionaires. Japanese Wagyu starts around $300/lb and can go over $1000. I have had small bites in restaurants and it's amazing, but I won't be ordering a steak anytime soon. Like you say—after the lottery!
  • Donw
    Club Member
    • Jul 2017
    • 2721

    #3
    Thank you for the write up. Always learning something new and different here.

    Comment

    • RonB
      Club Member
      • Apr 2016
      • 12137
      • Near Richmond VA
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      #4
      That sounds great.

      Comment

      • BriggsBBQ
        Former Member
        • Feb 2016
        • 301
        • Dallas

        #5
        Interesting.....I sent a note to my friend from Barcelona to see if he knows more about what part of the shoulder this comes from. I am wondering if this is thin slices of raw money muscle from a pork butt/shoulder. If not I think I need to try doing that on my next pork shoulder cook. Do the think money muscle on the griddle and then slow and low the rest for pulled pork.

        Comment


        • DavePruett
          DavePruett commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks! Let me know what you learn. The few descriptions I could find on exactly where the secret is cut from ranged form unclear to contradictory, but I am pretty sure it is from the shoulder.
      • Troutman
        Club Member
        • Aug 2017
        • 7109
        • Republic of Texallence

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        #6
        Really good write up and great research, two thumbs up . Have never tried Spanish pork, I've heard the acorn fed are excellent (I know some of our European members rave about it). Having said that, you lost me at $60/lb. Maybe some day I'll treat myself but in the mean time it's American pig for your's truly.

        Comment


        • DavePruett
          DavePruett commented
          Editing a comment
          I have mostly had the jamón (ham), which is an entirely different thing even though it's from the same pigs. I don't remember ever having a fresh cut of meat from them. I hear you on the $60! Even if it were $10, however, it would still be kind of a rare treat because it is so very rich.
      • EdF
        EdF
        Club Member
        • Jul 2016
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        #7
        Nice writeup. Thanks! I think Henrik has made this recently.

        Comment

        • Henrik
          Founding Member - Moderator Emeritus
          • Jul 2014
          • 4070
          • Stockholm, Sweden

          #8
          It's a great cut, I've done it many times now. One of my favorite pork cuts. I prefer salt only. And I grill it hot and fast. Very hot. Either that, or a griddle. I prefer salt only, as I really want that pork flavor to come through. It is amazing.

          As for the various thickness, don't worry. You'll be fine. I usually serve this very roughly chopped up on a sandwich with sliced nectarines/peaches and coriander. That is a great combo. Pork loves fruits/citrus, and the nectarine/pork combo blows me away every time.

          Comment


          • DavePruett
            DavePruett commented
            Editing a comment
            I hear you on the salt only. The pork flavor on the S&P only piece was incredible. Definitely all you really need. Other seasonings would be a matter of personal taste. I love the look of your recipe! I hav recently seen (very expensive) Wagyu sandwiches showing up. I like the idea of having the bread to soak up the juices and cut some of the richness and the same would apply to Secreto.

          • Henrik
            Henrik commented
            Editing a comment
            Yep, to each his own. It's always fun to experiment with flavors!
        • Henrik
          Founding Member - Moderator Emeritus
          • Jul 2014
          • 4070
          • Stockholm, Sweden

          #9
          Here's my recipe:

          https://hankstruebbq.com/secreto-iberico/

          Comment


          • BriggsBBQ
            BriggsBBQ commented
            Editing a comment
            I just saw some on the site for 53 per lb. It is a lot for meat but good for a special occasion and not as expensive as Wagyu.

          • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
            ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
            Editing a comment
            Henrik, I suspect it's only expensive because small import quantities. After living in the UK I discovered how much I enjoy lamb steaks (not just rack or chops, which are more readily available and not TOO expensive) and Halloumi cheese. Both are extremely expensive. Halloumi the size of a card deck is about $2 in the UK, up to $23 in the US!

          • treesmacker
            treesmacker commented
            Editing a comment
            Amazing!

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