Jamón Ibérico de bellota refers to the cured leg of a pata negra pig that has been raised free-range in the old-growth oak forests of western Spain. The pigs eat a diet rich in acorns, wild mushrooms, herbs, and grasses, yielding meat that’s richly flavored and low in saturated fat. Each ham is cured for a minimum of two years before reaching the market.
A 15-pound bone-in leg of jamón Ibérico de bellota retails for around $1,300, or $87 per pound.
The acorn-rich forests of western Spain make up an ecosystem that exists nowhere else in the world, and each pig requires at least 2 acres of land for ample foraging. That, in turn, strictly limits the amount of jamón Ibérico de Bellota available each year.