5+ Delicious Dishes You Can Make with Spanish Pig Leg

Impress guests with savory Spanish pig leg dishes; try ham, croquettes, roast, pasta, and stew recipes using unique cuts for flavorful meals.

spanish pig leg

Want to impress your guests with a savory and flavorful pork dish? Why not try using Spanish pig leg to create unique dishes? 

Spanish pig leg or “pata de cerdo” is popular for smoked or cured pork meat. It comes from the Iberian pig common to peninsular Spain. 

The taste differs based on the location where the meat comes from. Meat on the front legs is thinner, which is suitable for cured and dry meat, while the back has more fat. You can get fresh and smoked ham from the back of the leg.

When people hear of pig leg, they will associate it with hams. Yet, the leg has tasty parts that you should not miss out on, such as hocks and shanks. There are different leg cuts and slices with differing tastes.

The recommended cooking method for the pig leg is by braising or roasting. 

There are many recipes that you can make with Spanish pig leg. Read further to discover some delicious dishes you can make.

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Jamon Iberico Croquettes

Jamon Iberico is one of Spain’s iconic foods. It is ham made with the meat behind the pig’s leg.  This ham is a sought-after dish because it melts in your mouth. With its delectable taste comes a premium price. It is on top of the most expensive hams in the world.

The leg undergoes dry-curing. Curing time will take around 12 months to 2 years, depending on the kind of pig where it came from. Although it will take time before you can eat it, it will be worth it. 

From the whole leg, you must carve the ham to get thin slices. There is careful mastery to carve the ham perfectly.

You can eat the ham on its own, or accompany it with some steak, wine, and cheese. If you want to transform it into another dish, try making croquettes.

Follow the easy recipe below:

  1. Boil milk and heavy cream.
  2. In a separate pot, add butter and olive oil to caramelize onions.
  3. Then, add thinly chopped Jamon Iberico and flour. Cook on slow heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the boiled milk and cream to the ham and flour mixture. Continue stirring for 10 more minutes. Also, add salt and nutmeg.
  5. Pour the mixture into a wide but low container. Place it in the fridge for 4-5 hours.
  6. Afterward, divide the croquette mix into equal portions. Roll the mixture into ovals.
  7. Dredge the mixture to flour, egg, and breadcrumbs.
  8. Fry the croquettes. 
  9. When golden brown, remove from the heat and drain excess oil. Serve with your desired dip.

Canary Island Style Pork Roast

You can also roast the pig leg to create this favorite pork dish in the Canary Islands. Roasting is the common cooking method for Spanish pig leg.

Most love this pork for sandwiches because it is juicy and tender.

Creating this dish is easy. You will need the following ingredients:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (or more for a smokey taste)
  • 3 pounds of pork meat

Once you have the meat, rub it on an herb mixture. Then, bake it for 3-4 hours. Let it cool down for 15 minutes before you thinly slice the meat. You can add salt for taste.

Penne Pasta With Jamon Serrano and Garrotxa

Another type of ham from the hind of a Spanish pig leg is Jamon Serrano. It is also a slow-aged ham, taking at least 252 days drying time. This ham is less expensive than Iberico, but the quality is also excellent.

The ham undergoes strict evaluation for aromas, dryness, and salt content. Hence, you get quality meat for your dishes.

Moreover, this ham is also a staple ingredient in Spanish cuisine. Instead of eating the ham on its own, you can create a pasta dish using penne. Cook it like your usual mac and cheese, but with Spanish sun-dried tomatoes, and Garrotxa cheese. 

Garbanzos Con Patas De Cerdo

You can also make Garbanzos, a stew dish.  

The cooking process for this recipe is similar to the Spanish cocido and callos. Adding the rich and tender pork meat from the pig’s leg brings out surprising flavors you and your guests will love.

For this recipe, you need to make the sofrito. It is a tomato-based sauce with onion, garlic, parsley, cilantro, and bell pepper. Use a food processor to make the smooth paste. Saute it afterward.

Then follow the steps below:

  1. To create the stew, boil water and pork stock for 45 minutes. 
  2. Add the pork to the sofrito and the pork stock. Let it simmer for 20 minutes. 
  3. Add other ingredients like the butternut, chickpeas, and capsicum. Let it simmer for another 20 minutes.
  4. Allow the stew to simmer before adding the salt and pepper.
  5. Put off the fire and serve the dish.

Braised And Roasted Pork Shanks

The pork shank is on the lower leg portion of the pig’s leg. Unlike the Iberico and Serrano hams, the shanks are cheaper. It is only leg meat but is sometimes sold with other leg parts. 

The shank is muscular, and braising is the common cooking method. Roasting is also possible, but you need a special roasting pan.

Why not braise and roast the pork? It will take time and effort, but you get a delicious feast afterward. You need 4 whole shanks for the dish; 2 for braising and 2 for roasting.

You must braise the pork until it is tender. While braising, you can also roast the shanks.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Iberico ham so expensive?

Iberico ham is so expensive due to a combination of factors that contribute to its unique taste and quality. These factors include:

Breed: Iberico ham comes from the Iberian pig, a special breed native to Spain and Portugal. This breed has a higher percentage of intramuscular fat, which contributes to the ham’s distinct flavor and texture.

Diet: Iberian pigs are typically fed a diet of acorns during the last few months of their lives. The acorns give the ham a rich, nutty flavor that sets it apart from other types of ham.

Free-range lifestyle: Iberian pigs are allowed to roam freely in oak forests called “dehesas,” where they can forage for acorns and other natural food sources. This free-range lifestyle helps to develop the pigs’ muscles and fat distribution, further enhancing the quality of the ham.

Curing process: Iberico ham undergoes a lengthy curing process, often lasting between 24 and 48 months. This extended curing time allows the flavors to develop and mature, resulting in a more complex and intense taste.

Limited production: Due to the specific breed, diet, and curing process required, the production of Iberico ham is limited, making it a rare and sought-after delicacy.

All these factors combined contribute to the high price of Iberico ham, as the meticulous care and attention to detail required for its production result in a premium product with unparalleled taste and quality.

What is the Spanish pig called?

The Spanish pig that is used for producing Iberico ham is called the Iberian pig.

What is a Serrano leg?

A Serrano leg is a type of Spanish cured ham made from the Landrace or Duroc breed of pig. It is a popular and traditional food item in Spain. The term “Serrano” refers to the mountainous regions where the ham is traditionally cured. The curing process involves salting and air-drying the ham for several months, typically ranging from 7 to 16 months, depending on the size and desired flavor. This process gives Serrano ham its characteristic taste and texture, which is different from Iberico ham due to the breed of pig used and the curing process.

Final Thoughts

Spanish pig leg is rare, but if you can buy them in your grocery, you are lucky. You can braise, roast, or make a stew with it. With this meat, you can serve your guests dishes they will never forget.

Find some Spanish pig leg in meat shops near you and start creating delicious dishes.

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