Foodies go to great lengths to get their lips on the world’s greatest ham. But if you would not transportation prize boar sperm from Portugal, devote $two hundred,000 to import your have pigs, raise litters absolutely free range on natural grains and imported acorns, and dry age their hind legs by hand for years—well, then you are not as obsessed as Rodrigo Duarte, operator and butcher at Caseiro e Bom.

The son of pig farmers in Portugal, Duarte grew up increasing and butchering hogs, but didn’t have the possibility to open up his have position right up until he emigrated to Newark, New Jersey’s Portuguese enclave, the Ironbound district, the place he worked at a supermarket meat counter when conserving for his have butcher store. “I didn’t definitely rest again then,” Duarte states. “I worked very long shifts, then stayed up all night generating my have sausages.”

In 2010, he acquired a bodega and converted the again into a smokehouse and every inch of ceiling place into a pork lover’s paradise, dangling dozens of ham legs you have to duck beneath to technique the counter. Then he acquired a farm the place he lifted absolutely free-range domestic pigs, in advance of becoming the only man or woman in the United States at any time authorized to import and breed true black Portuguese Alentejano hogs.


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

Why all the fuss? Shut your eyes when a paper-slender slice of Duarte’s aged presunto (Portuguese for ham) dissolves above your tongue. As its marbleized unwanted fat melts, your flavor buds are bombarded with a range of sweet, buttery, nutty and savory flavors as complex as the world’s greatest wines or whiskeys. The rigorous taste comes from the pigs them selves, an historic line of black hogs named pata negra praised in composing two thousand years in the past.

The easiest comparison is to Spain’s well known jamón Ibérico de bellota, which can promote for $four,500 a leg. But some assume Duarte’s New Jersey–crafted delicacy is even better—he’s claimed major honors at the Charcuterie Masters worldwide opposition every yr due to the fact 2016. Now it’s on the menu of some of New York and New Jersey’s greatest dining establishments, with Duarte charging $499 a pound for a leg aged for 4 years. Revenue amplified even during the pandemic.

“I’m not frightened of acquiring consumers,” he states. “I’m frightened of striving to preserve up with demand. I do not want to rush the method.”

Many thanks to Duarte’s new on line store (usapatanegra.com), you can try some with no schlepping to Newark. Slice it as slender as attainable, serve at room temperature and, if you should, pair with aged Manchego, crusty bread and a superior bottle of wine or sherry-finished whiskey.


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