Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hamming it up

I wanted to make a ham and smoke it, but didn't want to work with a whole pork leg. Knowing that you can make 'ham' from a lot of different pork cuts, I looked for a sale on a good, large cut of pork. There was an 8 lb. package of 'pork sirloin' that looked like it would make a good ham and bought it for 1/2 off because it was nearing the expiration date (again, I LOVE the 'Manager's Specials' at Kroger!)

Ham making is almost identical to making Canadian bacon that I wrote about earlier. It's just a larger cut of meat than the pork loins that I use for the Canadian bacon, and I won't be rubbing the outside of the meat with spices as I do with the bacon.

This will have to cure in a brine for about 4 days. Some articles call for 4-5, some 5-7, depending on the amount of saltiness that you want. I messed up a batch of Canadian Bacon once, making it way too salty, so I will start on the low side for this first-time batch.


For every gallon of water:
1 cup of pickling salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup Instacure (Prague Powder, Pink Salt)
1 Tablespoon of Pickling Spice
1/2 teaspoon of Cloves

Mix all of the ingredients into the water well. You can use warm water so that it all dissolves easier, but you have to cool it to 40 degrees or below before adding the meat. I just used cold water, stirred a LOT, and then cooled it to 40 degrees.
Then place it into your container. I used my new plastic container I am using for meat curing and rubbing.

I placed the lid on the tub and put the tub in the bottom of my refrigerator. After 5 days it was time to smoke it. First I dumped the water out of the tub and replaced it with fresh cold water. I let that sit for an hour, then replaced it again. This is done to remove excess salt.

After draining the water again and patting the meat dry, I placed it on the smoker for about 4 hours to get a good smoke flavor on the meat.

After smoking I bring it up to the safe-pork temperature of 160 degrees in my oven. I place the meat in aluminum foil, add a little water, close it up and place it in a 300 degree oven until it reaches 160 degrees, measured with a probe thermometer in several places of the meat.

I wanted to slice about half of it for sandwich slices, so I cooled it in the refrigerator, still in the foil. That took a couple of hours, then brought out my new handy-dandy meat slicer.

Now I have a couple of pounds of sliced ham, plus a couple of 2-3 pound chunks for other purposes.

The flavor was excellent, the meat was SLIGHTLY on the dry side. The next time I will make sure the smoker's temp stays low, with plenty of smoke. This could have been from the cut of pork also; more experimenting is in order. All in all, it's some pretty good ham!

* Jan 16 2012 added note:  I got a half pig and had the butcher keep the ham intact, raw, uncured and unsmoked.  I am in the process of curing the whole thing.  I will post the results and process in a future blog!

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