Back to a (slightly historical) pork processing post.
After sausages, parma ham and brawn we wanted to try some wet-cured hams. Wiltshire Cure was the obvious choice. Of course we went to Hugh Fearnley-Whittstall’s River Cottage Cookbook for advice. This is a really excellent book along with his Meat book for processing a pork harvest it will give you lots of vital information about the cuts you will want to get and what to do with them afterwards.
1 half leg of pork (ours was boned)
3 Litres beer (bitter)
1kg black treacle or molasses
20 Juniper Berries
30g Black Peppercorns
Put all the ingredients except the pork into a large pan. Bring to the boil and then leave to cool.
Transfer to a non-metallic tub and chill then add the pork leg which had also been chilled.
I also added a couple of ham hocks to the brine since we were only using about a 1/4 of the leg.
Then you weigh the meat down (I used a small plate and a couple of heavy jars) ensuring that all the meat was fully submerged. Then there was a slightly complicated process. The brine is supposed to be kept chilled (about 3-4 degrees C), but the brining pot wouldn’t fit in the fridge (not with all the other meat we were processing).
This led to an amusing scenario where we would put the pot in the freezer at intervals for an hour or so to bring the temperature down (you can see the frost on the pot rim above) and then we would wrap it in freezer packs and woolcool to try and retain the cold for as long as possible.
We brined the meat for 4 days after which I put it in the freezer. I know the point of a cure is that you don’t have to freeze it but the second part of the process involved smoking it which we can’t do right now. We at least got the taste of the cure when we ate the meat and it was delicious!
A quick note on my brining pot. This was one of the treasures left behind by the previous owners when we bought the house. I was very excited to find it. It is big, heavy and earthenware and I am certain it will have lots of uses to a small holder. None of which will involve bread!
I would definitely do this again despite the hassle but next time I’m going to try and find a local smokehouse who will let me hang it in there for 7 days as well.