Sobrasada, a spicy sausage made with lean pork, bacon, skirt pork, paprika and salt (with the added option of white, black or cayenne pepper), is Balearic specialty produced in many parts of Ibiza. Sobrassada, along with Botifarró are traditional Balearic sausage meat products prepared in the laborious but festive rites that still mark the autumn and winter pig slaughter known as a matança (in Spanish, matanza) in Majorca and Ibiza. The chemical principle that makes sobrassada is the dehydration of meat under certain weather conditions (high humidity and mild cold) which are typical of the late Balearic autumn.
The regulations stipulate that the pig used for pork should be no older than eight months, weigh more than 130 kilos and lived in Ibiza for at least five months. After six months, the pig’s food should comprise only cereals, carob beans, legumes and compound feed. Meat used in the sausage should be taken no longer than 72 hours after the pig has been slaughtered, chopped into 5-8mm and mixed with the other ingredients before being stuffed into natural casings for fermentation and curing. Fat content must be less than 65%.
Sobrasada is made with lean meat such as loins, shoulders and hams (all cuts that are well drained of blood). The meat is then minced and mixed with fat and spices such as paprika, pepper, clove, nutmeg and even cayenne pepper if extra spiciness is preferred. Butifarra, on the other hand, while it also contains spices, is mixed with blood from the slaughtered animal and then boiled, for which reason it can be consumed immediately.
In days gone by, Ibiza was an island on which subsistence farming was the only way of life. Pig slaughters were fundamental because they provided a source of protein that could last all year long. Due to the island’s climate and its high levels of humidity, it was impossible to cure hams and tenderloins, as was customary in other Spanish latitudes. Hence, the preservation of pork was undertaken by means of sausages cured with salt and spices.