It’s all well and good if one has learned to debone a fresh leg of pork, but of what profit is it if there isn’t a winning method to turn it into a beautiful, moist, salty and smokey ham?
Such has been my dilemma for several years. The wet-cured (brined) hams always came out tasting more like a simple smoked meat and nothing like ham as we know it. Thankfully, on the heels of this year’s bacon success comes another! This time in the form of a dry-cured boneless ham which was then smoked in oak wood and finished using cherry. It was absolutely perfect!
If you’d like to make pork butter with me along with many other amazing prepared and cured pork recipes including prosciutto, capicola, bacon, guanciale, pate, rillettes, and more join us December 8-10 for our Homestead Hog Butchering Workshop in Brinkhaven, Ohio!
With the exception of the smoking, we used all the ingredients as suggested… even the saltpeter. Though the amount is small, I figured we would find a method that worked really well and nailed the flavor we were looking for. Then it’s time to start tweaking it in the future.
Next year, I intend to follow this recipe and use the saltpeter with half of the hams to see if it can be done just as well without. Sure we’ll lose the nice pink color, but I’m more concerned about what impact, if any, it has on the flavor.
But that is a worry for another year. In the meantime, I intend to enjoy our home-cured hams with Roasted Asparagus this spring and smothered in Cinnamon & Maple Fried Apples this fall!
Update: In our last batch of hams we tried the EQ method to cure them. It’s pretty simple and requires WAY less babysitting than the more traditional method. It also guarantees you can never over-salt your cures. This is the way we always cure our bacon now and we haven’t had to stand at the sink rinsing and testing, rinsing again and testing since. So why couldn’t it work with our ham too?
It was a smashing success!
Tips for Making Homemade Dry Cured Ham
If you decide to try the EQ method with this recipe, here’s how you do it:
- Measure out all of the cure ingredients. (We didn’t use the saltpeter this time. It worked great leaving it out, still tasted perfect, but, as expected, the meat was more of a grey color.
- Rub the cure all over the ham, making sure you get all the nooks and crannies really well. Reserve any excess.
- Place the ham in a vacuum seal bag and dump in all that excess rub.
- Seal ‘er up tightly.
- Refrigerate the hams for a week or more before smoking them. You don’t even have to bother rinsing them!
- Let them sit on a rack in the fridge for a day or so before smoking to allow the surface of the meat get sticky and take on the smoke better.