Originally Posted by SnorkelingGirl
I tried my hand at curing a couple of small sections of fresh pork leg into ham using Pop's Brine recipe. My husband, both my biggest cooking fan as well as my biggest (most honest?) cooking critic, declared it to be excellent.
Curing ham has been a struggle for me....I've had a couple of semi-successes, as well as a couple of outright fails. I think my time in the ham wilderness is finally over, though, thanks both to Pop's Brine recipe as well as realizing that curing ham is way easier if you debone it and use small leg sections. Thank you again, Pops, for a great recipe!
I started out with a 5 lb fresh pork leg section, and boned it out. This left me with 2 boneless leg sections totaling about 4 lbs, with each being about 3" thick. I used 1/2 gallon of water, and followed Pop's recipe but fine-tuned it for 200 ppm of nitrite (max per USDA for immersion cured products) and a 2.4% salt content assuming an equilibrium cure. This worked out to 1/2 gallon of water, 1/4 cup of salt, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey, and 12 grams of Cure #1.
I cured the leg sections in the brine for 12 days in the refrigerator (I did not inject as the pieces were deboned and only around 2 lbs each), then rinsed them, patted dry, and let rest overnight in the refrigerator to form a pellicle. I cold smoked using maple dust in the AMNS for 2 1/2 hours (smoker temp stayed between 72 and 82 deg F). I only cold smoked for 2 1/2 hours because I operate under strict instructions by my husband to keep the smoke taste light. After smoking, I let the ham cool and then rest in the refrigerator for a couple of days to mellow out.
This afternoon I baked them at 325 deg F in the oven until it reached an IT of 135 deg F, and let them rest before slicing. The IT reached a peak of 145 deg F while resting, so USDA should be happy. I applied some glaze when the IT reached 115 deg F.
I didn't take any pictures of the curing or smoking because I didn't think to, but here are some pics of the rest of the process.
Baking in the oven....
Coming out of the oven....
All sliced up! Cure penetrated all the way through...yay!
Plated dinner shots, with some sliced tomato, steamed romanesco, and a bit of reduced drippings + glaze....
Dessert! Couldn't resist throwing this in....homemade peach cobbler and some homemade vanilla ice cream. Yum!
I am so so happy with the final saltiness level of this ham. Even the semi-successful hams I've made before have come out too salty, this was by far the best for a pleasant salt level. The brine didn't go ropy either, which is the other thing I was worried about. Boning out the leg roast makes it easier because you don't have to worry about injecting along the bone or bone sour, and smaller pieces keep the cure time relatively fast, so quicker feedback and less time for the brine to go ropy.
Thank so much for checking out my post! I hope everybody has a great rest of your week and weekend!