Photo credit here
I was checking out a new blog the other day Chica Andaluza She is an Englishwoman who resides in Southern England and Andalucia in Southern Spain. Her blog is full of lovely posts with recipes and daily life in Spain and England. It's very inspiring and funny. Please check her out. While browsing through her recipes, I came across a post called Secreto Iberico (Iberian Secret) and was intrigued. I instantly asked my resident Spaniard "Hey honey, what is this secret, and how come we never had it when we were in Spain?" This is when I got a lesson in meat butchery in different parts of the world. Since he is so familiar with animal anatomy, and having done business with several different countries in the food and feed industry, my Spaniard knows a lot. So here is the lowdown...
It is a cut of meat that does not exist here in the States because of the way the animal is broke down at the slaughterhouse. Most butcher shops get their meat already broken down into large pieces that they butcher up into chops and steaks etc. It is difficult to find a butcher shop that breaks down the whole animal. Well, optomistic little Pollyanna that I am, I was CONVINCED we could find it here in Napa Valley if we found it anywhere. There are so many fine restaurants and I figured someone would know about it around here... ummm... NOPE. Armed with a diagram and my husbands useful Spanish language skills, we beat the streets, trying every butcher shop in town to find someone who knew about Spanish butchery. No luck... The best we were able to ascertain in our search was that it is a flap of meat in what would be the brisket area of a cow. It's at the front end of the ribs, boneless and tastes like rib meat, marbled with fat and traditionally grilled with salt and pepper and a little lemon.
Photo credit here
I was disappointed that we couldn't find this mystery meat. As we were looking at all of the wild game meats, my Spaniard spied a stack of meat labeled meat for sweet and sour BBQ. No cut specified. "This is it!" he says, presenting it to me with a flourish. It was boneless spare rib meat basically. We should have taken it to the butcher counter and asked him what that cut of meat was for future reference. But we were so happy to find it and so hungry at this point we ran home right away and threw it on the grill! It was delish. We paired it with some colored carrots, asparagus spears and squash grilled in oilve oil and garlic. Together with some bread, Spanish cheese Idiazabel (my personal favorite) and some membrillo, we had a lovely Spanish lunch at Casa Machinga.
photo credit here
So try this cut of meat. Check out Chica Andulaza's blog in the comments section of her Secreto Iberico post. There are some links to diagrams of pigs and how they are butchered in Spain. That helped, showing the photo. I guess you can just ask for the boneless spare rib meat, but it may not be the same stuff. Please post a comment here if you know where it can be found locally and if you know what the cut is actually called in the States.
All photos were found via google search.