I'm interested in making some cottage ham for my wife - she's from western Europe where smoked/cured meats were a necessity...that, and she just loves cottage hams. I've been trying to do some research and reading to figure out the best method, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of information...so here's a couple questions that I have, if anyone would be willing to help out:
1) What is the "best" piece of pork to use? Is it the "money muscle" on the pork shoulder or a pork loin? Alternatively, can I just cut up a pork shoulder into multiple pieces and make the cottage ham from that?
2) From what I've read, most all cottage hams use a wet brine. I've seen several wet brine recipes around here - but how long should I brine the meat before smoking?
3) When brining meat, I've seen some people measure the pink salt (cure #1) based upon the weight of the meat - and other times, I've seen people put the pink salt into water in a particular ratio of pink salt-to-water. Any guidance on the best way to calculate or figure out how much pink salt I need to use for the brining process?
4) As for smoking the brined meat - to what internal temperature should I take the pork to before it's considered "done" for a ham? Should the smoking process be something similar to smoked salmon where one method is to use a step-wise temperature gradient so that you slowly increase the temperature in the smoke box over a 12-hour period or so to slowly get the internal temperature to the desired temperature?
Any help or guidance (or recipes) would be greatly appreciated. Cheers!