Flushed with the success of making my own bacon I thought that I would have a go at air-drying ham. I have delusions here of creating artisan prosciutto! I read a couple of accounts (here and here) of how it’s done. It all seemed simple enough so I thought that I’d give it a go. Last Thursday I bought a 12lb leg of Dorset free range pork. As I unwrapped it I began to think that I had bitten off more that I could chew! I am not used to handling such a large piece of meat.
I found an oval bowl that could take the piece of pig and fit in the fridge and began to salt the pork. The salt didn’t adhere very well. Packing the pork in salt would be prohibitively expensive and so, much as I hate the stuff, I resorted to wrapping the pork in cling film (plastic wrap) to keep the salt in contact with the surface of the meat. The job of the salt is to draw fluid from the meat. The piece of pork, salted and wrapped in cling film was placed on a rack in the bowl so that the fluid could drain away. Pork and bowl was then placed in the fridge. The meat was turned a couple of times each day.
A week later I decided to re-salt the meat. I got hold of a slightly smaller bowl and lined it with cling film as if I was making a terrine. I placed salt on the base, placed the meat on top and then pressed salt against the flesh as I wrapped the pork up in the cling film. This was much more successful than my first attempt at salting the leg of pork and didn’t result in a major clean-up operation afterwards.
The salted, wrapped, pork was put back in the fridge to continue curing. The two accounts that I looked at differ in the amount of time that they recommend that the pork should be left salting. One says to leave for 1 day for each 1lb of pork (12 in this case) and the other for 32 days. I will probably hedge my bets and go for something in between.
Here are some pictures I took along the way:
Next update due in a couple of weeks time.