Tuesday 16 November 2010

“Ham cam” interlude…

A mixture of pork leg, loin and belly
If you’re attending Saturday’s Candlelight Club pop-up cocktail event (and if not, you really should), you’ll know that the food menu will include a ham sandwich made with a homemade juniper-cured ham. Will, our foodmeister, has sent me these photos of the ham beginning its journey to yumminess. You’ll note that he has included not just juniper berries in the cure but also vermouth and Cointreau—so it is not so much a gin-cure as a sort of Martinez-cure. I suggested this to him and he said that it does indeed smell rather like a Martinez at the moment.

In goes the cure
Here are Will’s prelim-inary comments:

Pork, a bit over 3kg in all: 
pork leg (half—home butchered) 
pork loin, pork belly (for variety and curiosity) 

1 gallon of water
2 lbs of curing salt: sodium chloride, sodium nitrate, potassium nitrate
¼ lb of dark brown sugar
A handful of bay leaves
A healthy scoop of juniper berries
A small glass of Cointreau 
A shot or two or vermouth (it ended up smelling rather lovely and so I stupidly tried tasting it... not a good idea) 

The secret ingredients of the "Martinez Cure". (I myself
regularly take the Martinez Cure. It hasn't worked yet but
I have every faith in my doctors and will keep trying.)

The cure was all heated together to steep the herbs and dissolve the salt apart from the alcohol and half the water which went in last to not kill the flavours and to help cool it. The pork all went into a large non-reactive (can't get much less reactive than enamel) pot and, once the cure had cooled to a cool room temperature (specifically my frigid sitting room temperature of 13 degrees), it was poured on top and weighted down with sterilised tiles wrapped in aluminium foil to keep the meat submerged.

The concentrated salt solution both sterilises the meat and draws moisture out of it, effectively “cooking” it.

The Ham Cam will be training its unblinking eye on our supper again, so stay tuned…

Sterilised tiles are used to weight the pig in its briny bath

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