Pata Negra Ham is a luxury delikatessen ham that is also known by the names of Iberian ham and black hoof ham.
The cured ham is found mostly in Spain and in some Portuguese regions. Pata Negra is made by the rules of food products which states that it can only be made from black Iberian pigs or pigs of which are at least 75% Iberico and which have been crossed. This pig lives in the south and south western parts of Spain in the provinces of Salamanca, Ciudad Real, Caceres, Badajoz, Deville and Cordoba. It may also live in the south east of Portugal and it is often referred to as porco de raca alentejana. Following weaning piglets are fattened on maize and barley for several weeks and they are allowed out to roam in pasture and oak groves and are only fed on natural grass, herbs, acorns and roots until it comes time for slaughter. At this time their diet is restricted to just acorns and olives to ensure the best ham. The hams that come under fine foods in delikatessen
are salted and are left to dry for a period of two weeks and then rinsed and left to dry again for another four to six weeks. After this it is time for curing and this can take twelve months, with some of the producers taking as many as 48 months for curing. Hams that come from the town of Guiluelo and Jabugo are well known for their high quality and are among the very best in the world. Almost all of Jabugo is devoted to producing the ham and is one of the largest producers.Pata Negra ham is labeled according to the diet of the pig with those being fed on acorns being among the most wanted in the world at the best delikatessen
. The finest is fed on acorns with pigs allowed to roam freely in oak forests along the border of Spain and Portugal. They eat only acorns before being slaughtered. Their diet has a large impact on the flavor of the ham. The next grade is from pigs that have been in pasture and which eat a combination of acorns and grains. The third grade is from those pigs that have been fed on only grain and where the ham is cured for a period of 24 months. However the term pata negra may be used to refer to any of the above three types of ham. One way of identifying the black pig is with its nails as these are black and the typical pigs are white. However it has been known for nails to be painted manually in cases of counterfeiting.