A Christmas Ham in January

I wrote this post in January, but what with it having been a somewhat “difficult” year, it was never added to the blog. I’ll post it now, and will make a more detailed post the next time I brine a ham. Its a laborious process but I absolutely recommend that you try brining like this yourself – the results make all of the effort absolutely worth it.

From January 2010

For Christmas I decided to cure a ham in apple-juice and cider. It’s the end of January now, and we have just had folks over to eat the ham. Yep, I boobed.

I based the brine on a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe from his book Meat, and misread the time the ham needed to cure in the brine. What with everything else we were preparing in the run-up to Christmas, I just speed-read the recipe. It states that the ham needs to stay in the brine for “3 days (minimum) and 4 days (maximum”, so I put the ham in the brine 3 days before Christmas and toddled off to do different things.

Silly me. I omitted to read the last part of the sentence  which was “for every 2 pounds”. Whoops. Given that the ham weighed about 10 lbs, it certainly wasn’t going to be ready by Christmas.

Ham after brining in cider
The ham after 20 days in the cider brine. It started off very pink, but has taken on the brine’s dark colour.

The ham stayed in the brine for 20 days, and Angela dealt with the drying part as I was away in London.

We kept it refrigerated wrapped in muslin, then soaked in clean water for 48 hours, changing the water every 12 hours or so to remove the salt. We then boiled it for about for 3 1/2 hours in a pot with onions, carrots, celery, peppercorns, bay leaves and a bunch of parsley. It was then glazed with mustard, brown sugar and cloves then baked for just over an hour.

We served it with new potatoes cooked with mint, and kale. Additionally it was served with two slices of fresh pineapple in a syrup of pineapple and orange juice.

Crappy iPhone shot of glazed ham
Ham with glaze and cloves prior to going in oven.

It was delicious, it really was, but to be honest, it did not need the glaze – it was absolutely incredible straight after boiling, and the next time I cure a ham, that is where I’ll stop.

P.S. If you want the ham to remain pink rather than gain the colour of the brine, add about 10g of nitrite (Sodium Nitrite) to the brine, – more info here: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/nutrition/DJ0974.html

I didn’t add any, because we didn’t care if the meat was pink or not, and I try to avoid nitrites as much as possible because of their potential effect on my blood-pressure.

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