The pincho moruño is, or can be, a delicious thing. Moist, tender flesh, oiled and rubbed with spices – my favourite. Its origin is set in Andalusia and judging by the name it is a Moorish invention dating back to before the reconquest in 1492. I have done some googling and found very little background to this meaty gem but given its form and its spicing there is little doubt it’s from North Africa.
What is odd however is that nine times out of ten the cube of meat you will chew off its stick will not be the more likely lamb but pork; and as we know our Moorish brethren do not dig on swine. It would not surprise me if weren’t a little Spanish ‘fuck you’ to the vanquished. A bit like the two fingers the English flaunted at the retreating French at Agincourt. Maybe not but it’s a nice thought.
The traditional recipes all have pimenton, a smoked dried and powdered pepper so my theory is either a crock or this spice was added later. Peppers did not arrive in Spain until Columbus returned from the Americas for the second time, some years after the overthrow in Granada.
Bringing this slightly back to date, I recently did the food for a wedding. The brief being very Spanish meant that amongst many other delights I put pinchos on the menu. At the tasting I made both pork and lamb being unable to decide between the two and hoping the happy couple would do that for me. But no, they couldn’t decide either so I ended up doing both.
I got hold of some neck cut of Iberian pork, which is the byproduct of the pata negra style ham. So these pigs are reared outdoors and have, in varying degrees, a good diet. The meat is so much more flavoursome and the fat is much less, well, fatty than the god awful factory stuff. If you haven’t tried it in a grill restaurant yet, order ‘secreto iberico’ and you will enjoy it. If you want to buy it then the place to go is Hipercentro on the San An road, they have a whole section of a counter dedicated to it.
The lamb wasn’t a worry, Spanish lamb being so utterly wonderful. I got some leg and chopped it into cubes.
I rubbed both with:
Toasted then pulverised cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and saffron
Pimenton de la Vera
Salt and pepper
I let it sit for some time before I skewered those mothers and grilled them over charcoal. You try it and see if you can decide.