Country Ham

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mythmaster

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I was going to wait until after-the-fact before posting any pics, but I'm too excited about it.
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Here it is looking all nasty just like it's supposed to:

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I had a butcher separate the butt and shank halves, gave it a good scrub-down, and put it in the sink to start soaking.  Here's the shank:

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and the butt:

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I keep them in ice water if I'm soaking for 2-3 days:

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Some leftover goodies:

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I can't wait to get this into the smoker on Saturday!!  WOO-HOO!!! 
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mythmaster

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looking good.  Did that come from Virginia?  What is your plan?

Keep us posted
Yes, sir, that's a Genuine Smithfield right there!  Gonna smoke it with Hickory.  I'll be doing a long post about it later -- just wanted to show a couple of shots of it going into the soak.

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mythmaster

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I figured out a way to get it into the fridge so I don't have to spend $20 on ice.  It's a good thing that I have a mop (although a wet-vac would be better)!
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  That's one of those 18-qt roaster ovens, btw:

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ddigitalpimp

Smoke Blower
May 14, 2010
78
12
PA
Here it is looking all nasty just like it's supposed to:
Can you explain what you are doing/what you did to the ham to make it look the way it does and why you did that? I am not familiar with what the process is here or the end result.  Thanks, just curious.
 

mythmaster

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I didn't do anything to it in that pic -- that is how it arrived.  It is a "Genuine Smithfield Country Ham", and it looks that way as a result of the curing and dry aging process.
Smithfied Ham:  A variety of country-cured ham made in Smithfield, Virginia, USA. It is coated with salt, sodium nitrate, and sugar, refrigerated for five days, salted again, refrigerated again for one day per pound of meat, washed, refrigerated for another two weeks, smoked for ten days, and then aged six to twelve months. In order to be labeled a Smithfield, the ham must be cured in the described manner within the city of Smithfield, VA. The meat is deep red in color, dry, with a pungent flavor. Considered a gourmet's choice, they are rather expensive and need to be cooked long and slow before eating.
Sourced from here.

This particular one was aged for 9 months.  Here's how the shank looks after 18+ hours soaking:

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the skin side:

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They are soaked for 12-24+ hours to remove salt.  Traditionally, they are boiled which continues to draw salt out of them, and soaking them for 24 hours is sufficient.  Since I'll be smoking mine, I'll be soaking it for close to 3 days.  While soaking removes *some* of the salt, they still have a salty taste, but combined with all of the other flavors resulting from the curing and dry-aging process it is *completely awesome*.
 

mythmaster

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I snapped another pic while I was changing out the water this morning.  The color is a little bit lighter after 36+ hours in the soak:

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mythmaster

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Well, I decided to go ahead and smoke it tonight.  If it's still too salty for someone after soaking it for 44 hours then they can just drink more beer.
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dforbes

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Feb 18, 2008
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Well, I decided to go ahead and smoke it tonight.  If it's still too salty for someone after soaking it for 44 hours then they can just drink more beer.
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Drink more beer. That would be my plan A. Looks great can't wait to see the finished product and here how it tastes.
 
 

Bearcarver

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Mythy,

I almost missed this----That would really tick me off!
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I don't think it looks right----You better chuck it

East-North-Easterly please!
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Bear
 

mythmaster

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lol, Bear! 
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I'm gonna switch the grates around and probe one of the halves in about an hour.  I'll go ahead and get a pic then since I'll already have the door open for too long.

I went ahead and started the blackeyed peas, too.  I've got a couple of those hock slices in the crock pot with the seasonings while I quick-soak the peas.
 

mythmaster

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WTH -- the butt's already done after 3 hours?????!!!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!  I checked it in several different places.  Oh, well...works for me.
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The shank was at 144* and was looking real good.

(front):

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(back):

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You guys WOULDN'T BELIEVE what my house smells like right now!!!!  HOLY <insert long string of expletives here> !!!!

I'm not serving until tomorrow, so I think I might wait until then to skin, trim, and glaze them.  OR I might do it tonight and go ahead and slice some up.  Might be easier to reheat that way.

Peas are going, too.  I cheated and put them on high because I don't want to get up at 4am to stick them in the fridge.
 

Bearcarver

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Looks GREAT !

Suggestion: Keep a little piece in the fridge

Don't eat it
Whenever the house doesn't smell like smoked ham, throw it in the oven awhile. Repeat---Repeat---Repeat!
Beats the H out of any air freshener I ever smelled!!!

Bear
 

mythmaster

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That's not a bad idea, Bear!

A couple more pics...the skin came off easily, but I honestly can't figure out what to do with it
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:

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And here it is trimmed and scored with a brown sugar and bread crumbs glaze on it:

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The dark spot on the bottom is too tough to eat, but I saved it for making stock (or air freshener
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).  I saved the bones, too, of course.  I see red beans and rice in my future...

I had a slice last night while I was slicing it.  It's pretty salty (I would've liked to have been able to soak it for 3 full days) and it's a little tough in some parts (slices that came from around the bottom).  But, overall, the one-of-a-kind flavor is out of this world, and I would do this again in a heartbeat.
 

Bearcarver

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That is sooo beautiful!
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I'm sure somebody will give you some ideas---Maybe the same type thing as they do with Bacon Rinds---Cracklin's???

We aren't so edgicated about that kind of thing up here in PA, at least most of us aren"t.
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Or you could stitch your own football?
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If it was me, I'd hang a piece of that skin over my bed, but Mrs Bear would probably complain.
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A piece in my truck would be nice (right in front of the floor heat vent).

We all kid around a lot, but this time I really am drooling! I gotta quit looking at it!
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I wouldn't mind seeing some more pics

SLICES!
Bear
 

stray

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Jan 1, 2007
13
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Syracuse, MO
Can you explain what you are doing/what you did to the ham to make it look the way it does and why you did that? I am not familiar with what the process is here or the end result.  Thanks, just curious.
Country hams are cured primal ham sections of a hog. You can purchase these already cured as Mythmaster has, or you can cure them your self. Unless you are butchering your own hogs or you already know of a place to get a "green" ham it will be better to purchase one already cured, my personal favorate is Burgers Country Hams. If you want to cure one you can find many reciepes for cure on the Internet or Morton Salt has a Sugar Cure just be sure to follow the directions on the bag. Most of us can do this only in the winter months, it will need to hang for a few months in 48 degrees or below (my grandfather always said to cure hams before January 15th in mid Missouri). Then you need to rub it on the ham exspecilly near the bone and meat that isn't covered with skin. Rap it up in Butcher paper and stuff in a ham smoking sack, hock or knee joint down. The best place for most of us to cure the ham is in an out building that is unheated and secure enough to keep animal out of. Lay on table or shelf for about a day or tell it starts to weap good then hang hock down. You will want to put a drip pan under the ham if you don't want it to drip on the floor, there will be a lot of drainage from the ham. You will let it hang for several months, when I was a kid we would let it hang tell we where perpairing to butcher the next year. This year we let my son's 4H ham hang from January till June. Now when you take the ham down it will look a lot worse than the ham in Mythmasters picture, will be covered in mold and just look plain nasty. To clean use cold water and vinegar scrubbing with a vegetable brush. At this point you can slice or cold smoke the ham for a couple days. If you choose to cold smoke the ham besure that you use a cure recipe that includes nitrate and nitrite, the Morton's cure does have both. When slicing if you don't have a meat saw, I have found that most super markets will slice it at the end of the day when they are done with the days meat cutting before they clean the saw (they have to clean the saw after, because your ham was cured outside the control of the USDA), they will usually do this for free or a very small charge.

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