Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ham by Request

The Maximum Leader has requested the story about the ham I mentioned in a previous post. I am pleased to oblige...

I became interested in charcuterie a couple of years ago after a disappointing incident with a summer sausage (not that kind of incident!). In researching recipes for home-made summer sausage, I found Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing by Brian Polcyn and Michael Ruhlman. It was a revelation to me, as I wrote about in this post.

So, the ham comes from the monstrous beast that Smallholder raised on his farm two years ago. It weighed about 40 pounds fresh. I salted it for about a month and a half, under weights to press out the excess water. When it was done in the salt, I took it out, brushed off the remaining salt, and covered it in lard (home-rendered from the same hog's kidney fat) and black pepper. I covered it for a time in cheesecloth, but mold appeared after another two months. The cheesecloth was removed, the ham scrubbed with salt water and a stiff brush, then lightly salted and re-hung. And so it is to the present.

It is noticeably smaller now, firmer, and has the familiar funky smell of a Parma or San Danielle. I think I may have to sample some for Easter, or perhaps this summer when melons are in season.

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