On adventures in meat

img_9323Molasses glazed dry cured ham

When we got our half of a pig, I had the butcher chop her up into sizes manageable for a family of three.  The ham, for example, which is normally a 12-15 pound thing, was divided into five pieces for us.  Perfect for experimenting!

Tom got a combination smoker/barbecue thingy from yours truly for the holidays.  He’s not exactly a reluctant cook, but as with most men there’s something about an open flame that brings out his inner Escoffier.  We experimented with the two hams I had started curing last weekend.  One ham was wet cured (basically salt, sugar, spices and water) and one was dry cured (everything listed minus the water).  The wet-cured one was to be the traditional glazed ham, the other leaning more toward Country Ham.  They got different smoking times and temperatures, but we took the glazed one with us for a New Year’s Eve party at 5 and left the other one to smoke for the remaining 8 hours of its 18 hour smoking session.

That party ham was gone in no time flat.  Wonderfully juicy, it had a garlic/mustard/honey glaze.  The image above is of the molasses-glazed dry-cured ham.  It became part of New Year’s day breakfast with eggs, then part of a split pea soup lunch (first year harvesting my field peas*, a great dual-purpose green manure), then somehow it factored  into dinner with a gravy and potatoes.  It barely made it though:  I couldn’t get the child to stop eating it!

*see, this is a gardening post after all.

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10 responses to “On adventures in meat

  1. Haha!! My kids LOVE pasture raised pork too. Love love love it. Funny thing is, we all hated it store bought!

  2. That looks REALLY good. Sounds good too.

  3. what a lovely looking ham! can’t beat pasture raised pork, imho

    btw, i have a spring seed giveaway going over at my blog-

    http://tinyurl.com/9uqkqy

    stop by and check it out, if you’d like!

  4. Looks DELICIOUS! We have yet to experiment with curing meats, but maybe 2009 is the year. We raised our own pork a few years ago, and did our own butchering at home, by the time that was all done, I wasn’t quite ready to take on curing. But it looks well worth it! Enjoy!

    I would love to try smoking some duck breast next fall.

  5. Beautiful job. Well done; brava!
    Sigh. Might need another chest freezer.

  6. Hey all: I thought I should mention the book that has caused all this curing trouble around here. I had it on my Amazon wishlist since it was published but nobody thought to give it to me so I up and gave it to my husband instead, sneak that I am. It has all types of fun things to try. We got a meat grinder at an antique store and I ended up buying myself a sausage stuffer too so I have a feeling I will be doing a post about these kinds of experiments soon.

    Angie, do you do any curing? It is actually kind of fun; I got the child involved with it. She wasn’t too interested in the smoking process though (she’s not a boy obviously!). But with all that turkey you ended up having, maybe some smoked breast meat might be nice.

    Thanks, Jimmy CC! I’m surprised none of you gardeners asked me about the field peas though 🙂

    Jayedee, you are so generous. That sounds like a wonderful giveaway, and I hadn’t heard much about that seed company before so thanks for putting them on my radar! Happy new gardening year to you!

    Freija, well, you live with a McGuyver type too, so I am sure rigging up a smoker would be no big deal to him. I REALLY know what you mean about having to go through the extra step; I can imagine doing your own pig was really emotionally tough. From what I understand from “the oldtimers,” the curing thing happens pretty much right when you cut the critter up. So yeah it would be a step you would have to be prepared to do ahead of time. The book I got Tom has a couple of recipes for duck breast, it turns into an almost prosciutto. I have two more ducks in the fridge that might need to undergo the “treatment.”

    CC, so many meals, so little time…I am sure you have another nice lacy tablecloth ready for the job though. I found our freezers made wonderful present-wrapping surfaces this year.

  7. No, I haven’t gotten into it yet, but I would soooo love to. It’s on the list……hmmm….and that is agreat idea. Guess what? Got our first turkey egg yesteday!! 🙂

  8. How do you split your field peas?

    • Hah! A question after my veggie-loving heart, Emily. I didn’t split them; they just sorta split themselves, or not. My daughter had made such a fuss on seeing them growing in the green manure (she’s something of a pea thief) that I told her she could harvest the pods when they’d begun to dry. We dried them further in the shed then shelled them then I boiled them and canned them up for winter use. (I suppose I could’ve kept them dry but it was summer so I was canning.) I am not sure how much (weight wise) I initially had but it ended up being 2 full quarts. Now we’ve got one quart left but my pea-soup fix is sure not to wane so I think I will do it with red lentils next.

  9. That’s AWESOME. I grew some field peas last year and wasn’t sure if they’d really make good pea soup…I only got a handful of pods, and though I was tempted, I didn’t make 13-bean soup with just my 13 pea harvest!

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