Pounds of Pork

Discussion in 'Meat Selection and Processing' started by backsmokin, May 1, 2012.

  1. backsmokin

    backsmokin Fire Starter

    Hi group,

    Got to spend this evening butchering a lot of pig with a friend and am now looking for some serious advice. From my part of the pig, I've kept out the hind quarter, belly and jowl, shanks and trotters for the smoker. I'm using a Brinkman electric water smoker modified with a thermometer. 

    I'm interested in any hints, rule of thumb, favorite cures you experts might have. I intend to avoid using nitates, finished products will be frozen so I don't really need them and I like putting together such things to order just because they taste better.

    My first thought for the trotters and shanks is a basic brown sugar/salt brine for 24 hrs with some of the brine injected along the bone. For wood I'm thinking maple to complement the sweetness.

    Belly and cheek - I've been looking at the bacon threads (although I'd love to try a dry cure for the cheek) and feel pretty confident about that.

    The ham is a bit scary just because of the size. I'm figuring a long smoking time and with my smoker using chips that is about 30-35 minutes per addition. I'm thinking I can extend that using a mixture of chips and lumps. Has anyone had luck smoking in intervals? Smoke "x" hours, store overnight, Smoke "x" hours repeating as needed?

    Any and all advice is appreciated. Will take pictures and post when I figure out how

  2. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  3. backsmokin

    backsmokin Fire Starter

    Thanks for that Pops. Still have to wonder about how the cure vs smoke thing plays. A true Virginia ham doesn't use nitrates but still tastes like ham. Prosciutto (at least the Parma) uses no nitrates and smoke has no role in it. Still tastes like "ham" not "Pork"

    BTW Pink salt is on order. I'm all for tried and true first.

  4. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    They both use nitrates, but not from outside chemicals, from long cure times with salt and then long smoke times (days to weeks) at low temps.  Wood that is smoldering has gasses which release nitrate-type chemicals and actually cures the meat through smoking it, the earliest form of preserving meat.  This is what your 'smoke ring' is indicative of.  Ever do spareribs for 6 hours and bite into them and the top layer you'd swear was just like bacon?  It actually is, the wood cured it and smoked it.  I further expanded on that concept by putting spareribs into a curing brine, then smoked them (see my link for Original Bacon-On-A-Stick below).
  5. backsmokin

    backsmokin Fire Starter

    Interesting - knew about nitrite in plant material and that being part of a true Virginia ham cure. Still not sure how that works with a Parma type prosciutto which had no added nitrites and is not smoked. 

    OK - I'm not crazy and my ham will use a proper cure and smoke followed by temperature readings before serving. Prosciutto is beyond the limits of what I can support for temp and moisture (at least for now).

    The jowl however is another story. Guanciale! I figure that I can adapt my kids old dorm fridge for drying. Bowl of heavily salted water for moisture (70% humidity), temp adjusted to 55-60F. Single jowl, all glands removed. Thinking more pancetta than prosciutto so it will be cooked before serving on this first attempt and will use pink salt in the cure.

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