Pork secreto, which literally means secret pork in Spanish, is a highly prized meat from Spain. Secreto pork has to be carefully cooked to preserve its tender texture.
I learned the fine art of making secreto iberico in culinary school. It was probably the most exciting lesson I had as a commis chef because the meat is so "mysterious.” Plus, the cuts were so easy to prepare and serve.
If you too are eager to learn about secreto iberico pork, aka "Spain's best kept secret," read on to find out what it is and how you can prepare it at home without a fuss.
The secreto pork comes from the pata negra ("black footed") pigs that roam the Iberian peninsula. The pork is a special cut from this heritage breed.
Iberico pork cuts are easily distinguishable by their dark color and beautiful marbling. The multitude of stripes of intramuscular fat is proof that you are looking at a high-end steak.
The flavor of iberico pig meat is as distinct as its appearance. The Ibérico pig is exclusively fed an acorn diet in government-protected farms in Spain. As a result, much of the fat in the meat is monounsaturated (good fat).
A Secreto steak is long and flat, much like a skirt steak. However, it's not certain whether these prized cuts actually come from pork shoulder as regular pig steaks do.
One reason this meat is called "secret" is because the steak could come from the pork loin, pork hidden beneath the shoulder, or even the pig's belly. Sometimes, the creamy fattiness of the iberico ham is confused for belly fat.
It's more likely that the cuts come from either the loin, side of neck, or between the shoulders. In any case, the farmers in Spain consider the secreto iberico the best cut of the pig.
A genuine secreto steak can cost above $100 per pound (about 450g). However, there are American-made versions that cost around $40 per pound.
The iberico pigs raised in American farms are typically fed soybeans and corn, changing the constitution of the marbling. However, there are dedicated farms that give animals feeds rich in oleic acid, so the flavor profile is as close to the original as possible.
Due to the high fat cap, you can't eat Iberico pork rare. If you truly want to enjoy the signature taste of Iberico pork, the steak must be cooked on high heat that melts the fat.
You can, however, enjoy Iberico pork medium-rare.
The best way to cook secreto meat is traditionally. It is made by grilling the cuts on high heat over olive wood chunks. Cooking on a hot griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat works as well.
I highly recommend cooking over direct heat, as this will make the meat taste deliciously seared.
The cooking time for this meat is very short. You are advised not to cook one side longer than one or two minutes, depending on thickness.
The centerpiece of an iberico meat dish should be the pork. The deeply flavored meat rarely requires condiments. Here are the ideal ways you can serve this prized meat:
In Spain, iberico meat is served as a delicacy with just a wedge of lemon. To enhance the nutty flavor, chefs sometimes spritz a bit of fruity extra virgin olive oil.
Outside Spain, it is simply served sprinkled with salt and pepper. You can leave out shakers for guests to help themselves. I personally prefer to cook with both sides well-peppered and salted.
This is how the famed chef Vitaly Paley serves his Iberico dishes. Romesco is a Spanish sauce from the Catalan region made with tomato, red peppers, almond, and bread. This sauce is lightly sweet and mildly zesty, making it a great accompaniment to a rich meat like Iberico.
Another simple serving idea is to throw in a few sprigs of fresh rosemary to the iberico meat. It will smell divine and taste nutty and flavorful.
Well, now you know what secret iberico meat is all about. It's easy to cook and serve, however, the meat is quite costly!