THE OX AND THE COW
For us, the ox is a mágicas, almost mystical animal. We are able to understand it, to comprehend it.
Then there is the cow. Special cows, with the perfect size and shape for the accumulation of quality fat. These animals are pampered every day and fed naturally. They are cows that are the pride of their owners.
The ox is generous, suspicious but trusting at the same time, curious and endearing. Feeling the serenity in its deep gaze is captivating. Its nobility makes it a companion that does not betray you. Despite its great size and horns, you feel safe.
Then comes the care that farmers give their oxen, a love that somehow the animal will transmit in their meat, through care and a diet made with time and dedication as if it were their own. Owners who truly love their oxen suffer when they part with them, which is why they like them to come to El Capricho. It is a place of dignity for them, as they feel proud that their animal has lived up to it, has been appreciated and come to a great house, to a great temple of meat, to El Capricho.
THE OX AND THE COW: OUR BREEDS
Our animals come from ancestral breeds from the Iberian Peninsula, breeds that give sturdy animals, resistant enough to bear the shortage of pasture and the climatic hostility of the meseta. These are indigenous breeds that have come down through time intact, away from genetic manipulations and the demands of productivity and efficiency that usually result in rounded, meat-filled, fat-free cattle.
This is what sets us apart.
Our oxen are old, huge, broad-chested and narrow-legged, somewhat hunched, capable of accumulating fats that will offer sensations from another time at the table, flavours and textures that we thought had been lost.
We always stand up for individuals beyond the features of a breed.
Some of the breeds we work with on our farm include Cachena, Tudanca, Alistana sanabresa, Sayaguesa, Rubia Gallega, Asturiana de los valles, Asturiana de la Montaña, Parda de la Montaña, Vianesa, Barrosa, Friesian, Freonesa, Maronesa , Ramo Grande, Avileña, Minhota and Terreña, as well as some crossbreed specimens that usually give great results.
SELECTION AT ORIGIN IS THE BEGINNING OF A LONG PROCESS TOWARDS AGEING
Involvement in the selection of the animals is essential for guaranteeing the highest quality.
José Gordón himself visits the mountain towns in León, Asturias, Galicia and Portugal, looking for the best people with the best oxen, which are old and well cared for.
He enters their stables, asks what they feed them on, where they graze, if they eat well, in short, he sees the ox and checks it out. Then he examines it, feels the fats on its chest and on its sides.
You have to be sensitive to understand its morphology, its nobility and its character. You have to have the ability to know how, when and where its fats will accumulate. It is necessary to understand the influence of altitude, the amount of rain and the salt residue from the sea on the pastures.
It is here, in this selection process, where the ageing really begins.
ANIMAL WELFARE ON THE FARM
Animal welfare; it is very hard to understand its meaning. For us it is essential and means observation, knowing how our oxen think, understanding their needs and weaknesses, knowing their feelings and feeling respect for the land.
Our farm is beautiful, with holm oak and colourful meadows in the short springtime, with flat areas and sunny hills that descend to the majestic, serene reservoir, edged with reeds and alders. Overhead, the menacing, powerful golden eagles dominate the sky, hinting at true freedom.
This is the space where our oxen live and grow, outdoors, seeing the water and the plants, free of electrical waves and antennas, away from noise. Just peace. Only the sound of the wind and the singing of the birds.
In freedom and without limits, they decide if they want group together to feel less afraid or be alone when they are sad or suffer by themselves if something hurts. They decide how much – and when – to eat or sleep. They decide whether they need to challenge each other to feel respected or to lick each other to show affection and friendship, exposed to the seasons, the cold winter and its frosts, which will move the subcutaneous fat into the muscle.
These meadows are medicinal, fleeting paintings for their eyes, and once they leave the farm, we accompany them and take the greatest care of them throughout the process.
For us, this is the true meaning of animal welfare. It is the meaning of exceptional meat.