Wednesday, 22 December 2010

10-Day Ham

Still hooked on slow-cooking, so doing a pork that takes 10 days seems just my cup of tea, and just in time for Christmas.  I am following a recipe, of course, and it's a Heston I pulled out of a magazine.  Lots of spices - but I have those from all my pickling.  First off I ask for a 3kg shoulder of pork from the butcher, and it's huge. It's all boned and tied by the time I see it, so I can't back out, so I lug it home, wrenching my shoulder. Turns out the recipe asked for boned leg, not shoulder.   A near kg of salt into a basin of 6 litres of cold water, then the spices you're going to add to the brine, tied in a muslin cloth.  I cut the little square too small, but stuffed everything in all the same. No orange peel from 2 oranges, thank you - to my taste, that would spoil it. I used only lemon rind, and no star anise.  Don't have it, don't like it.  I didn't whizz anything in the  blender first either (the rind and the garlic), I just pounded everything together in my lovely black pestle and mortar - that was pure aromatic heaven. I love the way different combinations smell so distinctive, even though you're using nothing new.  And this is what he asked for:

900g salt in 6 litres of water
1 head of garlic
zest of 1 lemon (I used 2)
zest of 2 oranges (nahh)
3 springs of rosemary (didn't have)
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 bunch of thyme (had some outside)
7 bay leaves (outside)
7g star anise (you may like it - maybe it's the magic ingredient)
150g coriander seeds (this has got to be an error!  I used 10g)
2g cloves
4g allspice
1g juniper berries
2-3kg boned pork leg
I put this all into my black cast-iron casserole, which was far too small and far too heavy. Sealed and covered, I carried it outside to keep cool into the snow, and wrenched both shoulders this time, and my neck.  Next day I got a bigger plastic basin, covered it with foil, and got Michael to carry it to the fridge, where it sits, and will sit ....for 7 days.

7 days later.... during which an almighty snowstorm transformed our world - and here the footprints of a thirsty fox trying to get to the drinking hole we broke....
To get rid of all the salt you have to drain and soak for another 24 hours, changing the water three times or so.  The water didn't taste salty the third time, so we tied the pork with string, and filled the casserole with water right to the top and put it in the oven at 60 degrees (plate-warming heat) for 32 hours.  That came out last night, and the skin is certainly wobbly and cooked, and lots of fat came out too. It smelled divine.

But the proof, as they say is in the eating, so now we're going to have to wait for Christmas.....


  1. How was the ham? How did you bake it and was it wonderful?

  2. We warmed the ham for an hour, and it smelt wonderful. It went down very well, the flavour was excellent, but for me the texture was a little too soft - maybe leg would have been better.