Bored of regular pork pâté? Try sobrasada, Spain’s raw cured spread steeped in old rituals and local flavor. For centuries, the native black pig varieties on the Balearic isles have been key to the unique taste. But recently sobrasada has started spreading onto menus worldwide
It’s time for chorizo to move over and stop hogging(!) the limelight. Consumers are getting acquainted with its cousin – featured as a tapa, as well as in more innovative dishes. While Spain has long been familiar with sobrasada’s charms, it’s now plugging into global trends. This includes a return to artisanal food preparation and the Slow Food regeneration of heritage and landrace varieties, not forgetting the new wave in regional cold-cuts (or embutidos).
Sobrasada’s origins lie in the ancient practice of storing cured meat in intestines (modern-day cured sausage). This was introduced to Spain by the Romans - but sobrasada is first mentioned in a letter between Mediterranean Kings in 1403. Mallorcan sobrasada is the most renowned owing to the black pig that produces a more flavorful, unctuous version versus its counterparts.
Seasonal slaughter (fall matanza) and curing takes place through a celebrated ritual. Made with minced pork and fat before curing with salt, pepper and spices, sobrasada was originally white but took on the red color you see today when pimentón was added to the mix. The most common types are longaniza (sausage shape) and sobrasada spread.
Across the islands you’ll find this tasty, cured meat at breakfast, in various dishes or simply spread on bread. Accompaniments include honey and apricot jam, for sweet-savory play. Pan out to the world and sobrasada is appearing on everything from pizza and eggs to haute-cuisine appetizers. José Andrés showcases Mallorcan flavours in his Mollete de Sobrasada y Mahón bocadillo at Spanish Diner, New York. Meanwhile, Joan Roca is putting it on blini in Girona, and the plant-based movement is offering a wealth of vegan-friendly alternatives. Since exports of the Spanish stuff don’t reach shores in the States, local artisans, such as Charlito’s Cocina (NYC), are making their own versions. So go on, let sobrasada surprise your taste buds!