Far from the farm’s cozy barn, four black pigs bed down on the forest floor.
In their waking hours, the hogs forage for most of their food grass, roots,
lichens and the acorns that Williams rancher Tobias Hatfield hopes will infuse
their meat with unsurpassed flavor.
“We’re trying to duplicate the famous Spanish, black-footed pig,” Hatfield says.
So-called “black-footed” pigs yield “jamn ibrico,” a dry-cured Spanish ham
that is richer, more complex and slightly gamier than prosciutto or the more
ordinary Spanish dry-cured ham called “jamn serrano.” In Spain, the most prized
black-footed pigs are allowed to roam oak forests and feed on acorns.
The hams require two to three years of curing before selling for $100 to $200
per pound. Hams were shipped to just a handful of U.S. distributors about a year
ago, following a 12-year process to gain government approval to import them.
Photo Caption: One of Tobias Hatfield’s herd of large black pigs forages in the
wood of his Williams area ranch. Bob Pennell / Mail Tribune photo
Photo Credit: Bob Pennell
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