Foodies go to nice lengths to get their lips on the world’s best ham. However when you wouldn’t transport prize boar sperm from Portugal, make investments $200,000 to import your personal pigs, increase litters free vary on natural grains and imported acorns, and dry age their hind legs by hand for years—properly, you then’re not as obsessed as Rodrigo Duarte, proprietor and butcher at Caseiro e Bom.

The son of pig farmers in Portugal, Duarte grew up elevating and butchering hogs, however didn’t have the chance to open his personal place till he emigrated to Newark, New Jersey’s Portuguese enclave, the Ironbound district, the place he labored at a grocery store meat counter whereas saving for his personal butcher store. “I didn’t actually sleep again then,” Duarte says. “I labored lengthy shifts, then stayed up all evening making my very own sausages.”

In 2010, he purchased a bodega and transformed the again right into a smokehouse and each inch of ceiling area right into a pork lover’s paradise, dangling dozens of ham legs it’s important to duck beneath to strategy the counter. Then he purchased a farm the place he raised free-range home pigs, earlier than turning into the one particular person in america ever allowed to import and breed true black Portuguese Alentejano hogs.


The pork-tastic counter at Caseiro e Bom, Duarte’s retailer in Newark’s Ironbound.
Miriam Stein Battles

Why all of the fuss? Shut your eyes whereas a paper-thin slice of Duarte’s aged presunto (Portuguese for ham) dissolves over your tongue. As its marbleized fats melts, your style buds are bombarded with a variety of candy, buttery, nutty and savory flavors as advanced because the world’s best wines or whiskeys. The extreme taste comes from the pigs themselves, an historical line of black hogs known as pata negra praised in writing two thousand years in the past.

The best comparability is to Spain’s well-known jamón Ibérico de bellota, which may promote for $4,500 a leg. However some suppose Duarte’s New Jersey–crafted delicacy is even higher—he’s claimed prime honors on the Charcuterie Masters worldwide competitors yearly since 2016. Now it’s on the menu of a few of New York and New Jersey’s best eating places, with Duarte charging $499 a pound for a leg aged for 4 years. Gross sales elevated even through the pandemic.

“I’m not terrified of discovering clients,” he says. “I’m terrified of making an attempt to maintain up with demand. I don’t need to rush the method.”

Due to Duarte’s new on-line store (usapatanegra.com), you’ll be able to attempt some with out schlepping to Newark. Slice it as skinny as potential, serve at room temperature and, when you should, pair with aged Manchego, crusty bread and bottle of wine or sherry-finished whiskey.


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