Norwalk, IA & Bluffton, GA – La Quercia, leading artisan cured meat producer, and partner Iberian Pastures announce their new line of Iberico Americano Cured Meats. Iberian Pastures is raising purebred Iberico pigs stateside, which La Quercia is turning into dry cured meats in its Iowa facility. This project brings New World sourcing and curing techniques together with Old World traditions, and represents the first Iberico pigs to be raised in the U.S.
The project began in 2015, when Will Harris of White Oak Pastures, a fifth-generation rancher in Georgia, and Jaime & Kurt Oriol, third generation pig farmers in southwest Spain, teamed up to import and begin raising 100% purebred Iberico pigs in the grasslands of southwest Georgia. Iberico pigs have been raised on the Iberian peninsula of Spain for centuries, and Jamon Iberico is beloved throughout the world as a particularly delicious and high quality cured ham. Now, more than 500 American-born Iberian pigs roam freely over acres of fields and woods in Georgia. The pigs live their entire lives at White Oak Pastures, forage on pecans and peanuts, and are pasture raised in accordance with Certified Humane™ standards, with no use of antibiotics or GMO feed.
The team at La Quercia transforms this very special purebred pork into high quality cured meats, including Jamon (ham), Pancetta, Lomo (loin), and Chorizo (a dry cured sausage similar to salami). Iberico breed meat has a beautiful deep red color and abundant marbling that make it a favored ingredient for dry curing. The meat is cured in La Quercia’s aging rooms in Norwalk, Iowa. La Quercia craftspeople work with several other breeds of pork also, including Berkshire, Tamworth and Cinta Senese. Iberian Pastures is also producing an exclusive line of purebred iberico fresh meats available for retail e-commerce and wholesale customers. The fresh meat has been compared to the texture and flavor depth of Kobe beef.
“Iberico pork is some of the best quality meat there is, period. It has a soft but very rich meaty flavor, and when worked with skillfully, develops a deep complex sweetness. We’re convinced that better meat makes better cured meat, and this American Iberico is exactly what we look for—great breeding and raised outdoors,” said Herb Eckhouse of La Quercia. “We’re excited about our first results and hope to challenge the best in the world with this collaboration.”
“When we visited White Oak Pastures, we were immediately convinced that this would make a great home for our pigs,” said Kurt Oriol of Iberian Pastures. “The place, people and practices met our hopes and expectations from the first visit.”
Will Harris, the family patriarch of White Oak Pastures, a Savory Institute research site, said, “This is exactly the kind of special quality, special value type of animal we want to raise on our farm. And we sought out La Quercia because they are known to be the best at meat curing, especially hams, in the US. The first results are pretty spectacular.”
The Iberico Americano line is available in limited release and primarily to wholesale customers, so it can be found on select menus and specialty cheese counters. The line includes:
- Jamon – Jamon Iberico Americano has made it to select customers, and more will be coming after February. These are cut in the Spanish style and cured with sea salt.
- Chorizo – This is a small diameter salami inspired by the traditions of the Extremadura region, the Spanish home of these Iberian Pastures pigs. Spiced with pimenton de la vera, garlic and oregano, it pairs wonderfully with aged sheep’s milk cheeses and red wine.
- Pancetta, Bacon, Lomo, and Lardo are available direct from White Oak Pastures (https://www.whiteoakpastures.com) and wholesale through Gourmet Foods International.
These new meats embody what La Quercia is known for: delicious cured meats from humanely raised and responsibly sourced pork. Iberian Pastures has been able to insert the golden child of Spanish gastronomy into the sustainable farming practice protocols of White Oak Pastures, creating the perfect partnership.
About La Quercia
La Quercia was founded by Herb and Kathy Eckhouse more than a decade ago, and today it is one of the leading producers of artisan American cured meats. In Norwalk, Iowa, the Eckhouses and their team have built specialized aging rooms for their humanely-raised American pork. The business prioritizes sustainability in their sourcing, operations and packaging as well as for its people. La Quercia’s meats contain no added nitrates, nitrites and are made from pork raised without antibiotics; the company also participates in the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) 5-step animal welfare program. The words ‘la quercia’ mean “the oak” in Italian; the oak tree is the state tree of Iowa and a symbol of the Italian province of Parma. It represents La Quercia cherished values of patience, persistence, integrity, and beauty.
About Iberian Pastures
In 2015, Will Harris partnered with Jaime & Kurt Oriol to be among the first to welcome Iberian Hogs, a Spanish national treasure, to the United States. White Oak Pastures legacy farm together with the Oriol Family tradition formed the American company Iberian Pastures. Iberian Pastures was born at a union of 2 great cultures in agriculture and gastronomy. 100% Purebred iberico pigs were inserted into the grazing and rotational pasture-based system in White Oak Pastures. This sustainable form of agriculture promotes land regeneration and ensures well-being of animals – a perfect home for the leader of free-range pork.