As regular readers of this blog are aware, just before Christmas I bought half a Perigord pig from my butcher in Loches and I have been enjoying the meat ever since. Just after Christmas I thought I would try my hand at making Jambon Sec or air dried ham. It is something that I have wanted to try for a while but expense or opportunity has eluded me.
Making an air dried ham is a long term commitment as it will take a minimum of 6 months to be ready, ideally longer, but I know that there is no way I would be able to keep my hands off it for longer than 6 months!
I did some digging around on methodology, I knew it would be straightforward but I want to check salting times, cures etc. The research through up a range of possibilities; bone in or out? Keeping it in seemed to increase the likelihood of rot. How long to cure in salt? 3 days, 5 days per kilo, more? Get it wrong and the ham will be too salty. The use of sugar, aromatics, wine and vinegar washes? I was like a rabbit caught in headlights, all I want is to make a bloody ham, what to do…..
Well, I decided to lower the risk of rot by asking Sebastian my butcher to bone the leg, that left approximately 7 kilos of of meat. I decided to keep my first go simple and opted for a lightish cure with out additional aromatics or flavourings. I commandeered a plastic draw from the boiler room, a few strategically placed drill holes and I was ready.
Super U our local supermarket was selling 10 kilo bags of sea salt so getting the salt together was a breeze. The meat nestled perfectly on to a bed of salt and 10 kilos was a just right. The whole lot was weighed down with a concrete block and the top of a sledgehammer and left for just under 4 weeks, and I just kept a watchful eye in case I needed to top up the salt level. A surprisingly large amount of liquid drained from the set up, but fortunately I had stored the ham in my workshop, one less hassle for Julie.
After 4 weeks I exhumed the ham from the salt, simply gave the whole joint a rinse under the tap and wrapped the joint in a single layer of muslin, as you can see it is now suspended in the rafters of my porch where safe from rain but exposed to a cooling breeze it will stay for at least the next 6 months. I will have to be patient but unfortunately I have reached the age where 6 months seems to flash by, in the meantime I will try not to drool to much