Everyone has heard of the famous Spanish jamón (even though they muddle Ibérico with Serrano) but few seem to have heard of the wonderful Retinto beef. It comes from a breed of cattle of that name which lives mostly in Andalucía and is named after the dark colour of its hide. An important number of these magnificent beasts are reared in the beautiful dehesas (pastureland) in the sierras and forests of Cádiz, where they live freely and form a part of the ecosystem, feeding on a diet of grass, acorns, shrubs and branches. Feed is rarely needed here.
|Magnificent Retinto cattle in the dehesa|
The quality of the meat is such that in 1993 a national association of Retinto breeders (ACRE) was established and thereafter the official Carne de Retinto brand was recognised by the government and the European Union. There are Rutas del Retinto in Zahara de los Atunes (September) and Conil de la Frontera (December) in which one can try all sorts of Retinto dishes. The most popular Retinto beef is añojo, from an animal of between one and two years of age which provides tender, juicy and tasty meat with 50% more protein and a less insipid colour. While the beef is delicious in any recipe, it is perhaps at its delicious best straight from the barbecue – with a glass of good Oloroso.