~ Pan-Seared Spanish Iberico Pork Secreto (Secret)~
October is/has been National Pork Month, an American 'holiday' created by the hog producers to give their industry a boost, and there is nothing wrong with that. I love pork, and, this year on Kitchen Encounters, I concentrated my October pork posts on my favorite recipes for thin-cut pork chops. I showed you ~ The Art of Frying the Perfect "Skinny" Pork Chop ~, then, I made a Southern classic ~ Smothered with Love: Pork Chops w/Onion Gravy ~. You can read both by clicking on the Related Article links below. I have purposefully saved my best for last:
Thanks to my close friend and Nittany Lion Inn chef, Jamison Steffen, I have access to many fine and exotic ingredients that would otherwise not be available to me in my local Central Pennsylvania markets. Iberico pork (the Kobe beef of the pork world), is one of them. Last year, Jami introduced me to Iberico pork in general, and more specifically, "secreto", which is a cut that is hard to locate on the hog itself, hence the name "secret".
A bit about Iberico pork: It comes from the Iberico breed of pig, known as a "black-footed pig", which is raised almost exclusively in Spain. The pigs roam in pastures and oak groves, feasting on natural grass, herbs and LOTS of acorns. Acorns are rich in oleic acid, the same found in olive oil, and because pigs do not convert fat, the oleic component makes their highly-marbled, rosy, melt-in-your-mouth meat, high in mono-unsaturated fat.
Note: To get a lot more Iberico pork facts and information, you can read my post from last year ~ The New Meaning of "Outstanding": Iberico Pork ~, by clicking in Categories 3, 10, 16 or 21!
According to COVAP, a cooperative of farmers headquartered in Pozoblanco (Cordoba), Spain, the "secreto" is a fan-shaped piece of muscle obtained from the top front of the pork belly which is initially covered in belly fat (which makes it a hard cut of meat to locate). Once trimmed, as you can see from the photos, the exposed muscle itself contains streaks of light, creamy fat marbled throughout, which makes it ideal for quick, high-heat methods of preparation:
Last year I grilled secreto for you -- this year I'm pan-searing it!
I realize that even via the internet, pricey Iberico pork is really hard to procure, but, I don't want you miss a great dinner, or, not learn a new cooking technique. This is a great way to cook an inexpensive pork shoulder blade steak too!
~ Step 1. This 14-16-ounce, room temperature secreto 'steak' has been rinsed and patted dry, and, isn't getting any fancy marinade or dry rub. Why? If cooked properly (very quickly over high heat for less than 5 minutes) it requires no tenderizing (the fat dissolves almost instantly and tenderizes it naturally). Plus, I don't want any spices bastardizing its one-of-a-kind flavor (the flavor of the fat). Instead, it's getting the royal treatment.
Pure and simple: freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend is the best!
4 tablespoons salted butter
4 tablespoons olive oil
over medium heat, until butter is melted. Increase heat to medium-high to not quite scorching high.
Add the pork to the skillet, seasoned side down, season the unseasoned side with salt and pepper, and saute until first side is golden, about 2 minutes...
... REPEAT... DO NOT OVERCOOK THIS PORK!!!
Disclaimer: Technically, 14-16 ounces of meat serves two (or it should). The truth be told: this is so good, Joe and I can each eat almost an entire 'steak'. I suggest cooking two in the same pan and enjoy a few leftovers the next day!
Special Equipment List: 12" skillet; spatter screen (optional); cutting board; chef's knife
Placed on a bed of ~ Smashed Maple Sweet Potatoes ~ and topped with ~ Sweet (& Savory) Caramelized Onions & Apples ~, Fall colors and October pork never looked or tasted so good!
Both side dishes can be found by clicking into Category 4!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)