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#3504039 - 12/17/13 12:16 AM Attempt at a "City Ham"
TAFKAP
14 Point


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 9536
Loc: Memphis

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I've got no motivation for this project whatsoever…just decided to swing for the fences. From my small doe a couple weeks ago, I decided to wet cure one of the rear legs to do a ham. The goal is to cure it in the brine for a while, then smoke it just a bit for flavor, then actually do the cooking in the oven. I have very little scientific basis for this, but here's what I've done so far. After some Googling around, I settled on trying this method out.

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/89979/from-hog-leg-to-easter-ham

1) Dry aged the meat in the fridge for about 14 days. Sounds counter-productive to dry age the meat, then soak it in a brine……honestly, no real reason to dry age this. Mainly just trying out "dry aging", while buying time to gather everything together to brine this thing. So with a little reassurance that "pungent" meat was good, I continued on. The meat was clean, the fat was still white, and it didn't stink. The texture was firm, but had some give to it. I'm still not quite used to dry aging.


2) Make the cure….this ended up being a total of (4) gallons, while the original recipe called for 1 gallon. So I dissolved twice the dry stuff in the pot, then covered it in 1 gal of water. Poured it over ice, added water, and ended up close enough to the "recipe". Also, I generously added some dried rosemary, thyme, oregano, garlic, juniper berries, and black pepper for some flavor. Bring it to a boil, take off heat, and pour it over the ice into the curing vessel. In this case, I bought one of those Kingsford charcoal tubs….it's sized perfectly, has a snap lid, and is much cheaper than a trashcan.





3) Granted, the recipe is based on a hog leg, which is much more massive than the rear leg of a 68lb doe….however, the theory made sense. So I used the injector to pump brine around the bone. Again, no scientific basis one way or the other, but it made sense. I didn't just puncture muscle to get to the center, but placed the needle alongside the various bones, and used natural muscle contours to get the brine inside the meat. No extra holes punched in the meat.


4) Then close the lid, and pop it into the new (to me) TAFKAP Meat Curing Fridge. I'll periodically check this, but I think right now, we'll go for 10 days. I really don't know what the goal is. The recipe is based on a humongous pork leg, so I doubt 30 days is necessary. Christmas maybe???


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#3504041 - 12/17/13 12:17 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: TAFKAP]
TAFKAP
14 Point


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 9536
Loc: Memphis

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FYI, Curing Salt (AKA: Insta Cure #1, Pink Curing Salt, Sodium Nitrate) is nearly impossible to find……Academy Sports has it. And it's cheap…..but most importantly, EXTRA FANCY

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#3504371 - 12/17/13 08:59 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: TAFKAP]
Crosshairy
10 Point


Registered: 08/22/06
Posts: 2660
Loc: Bartlett, TN

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LOL @ "extra fancy"

I like your spirit of experimentation. Once I find a hunting spot where I can shoot does into the late season, I might share your sense of adventure. Right now, I'm greedily guarding my 2 deer in the freezer and haven't done much in the way of "cool stuff".

I know...that's no way to live \:\)

Hope it works out for you!
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#3504386 - 12/17/13 09:12 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: Crosshairy]
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Mud Dauber
16 Point


Registered: 07/28/10
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Interesting. 10 days sounds exactly right for curing a hole leg.
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#3504423 - 12/17/13 09:37 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: Poser]
WMAn
8 Point


Registered: 11/05/10
Posts: 1204
Loc: Williamson County

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I'm curing a fresh ham (pork) for Christmas. I got my curing salt from Amazon.

Are you going to leave the leg out of the brine in the fridge for a day or so before smoking/cooking?

I'm really interested to see how this turns out for you. I've got a whole leg (venison) in the freezer that I might have to use for this.
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#3504542 - 12/17/13 10:50 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: WMAn]
TAFKAP
14 Point


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 9536
Loc: Memphis

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Yes, I'll rinse the cure off, and have also debated soaking in clean water for a day to temper some of the saltiness. Air-drying is a must for me.
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#3504669 - 12/17/13 01:01 PM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: TAFKAP]
TheRealSpurhunter
8 Point


Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 1366
Loc: Cleveland & Bedford CO

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Very anxious to see your results.
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#3505534 - 12/18/13 12:06 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: TheRealSpurhunter]
TAFKAP
14 Point


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 9536
Loc: Memphis

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 Originally Posted By: TheRealSpurhunter
Very anxious to see your results.


Me too \:D


Actually, how about a little guidance here?

I've never been just a huge fan of that candy-crusted stuff the "ham companies" put out……..but I've never really seen any other ham cooking techniques out there. Either you country dry-cure the stuff, or you glaze it in the oven like a stained glass window.

I plan on smoking this one for about an hour or so, mostly for flavor. Please help with some suggestions for how to go from there. Keep smoking? Oven bake? Oven bake with a better glaze idea? I've never been tits about sweet glazing meats, in general. I'm just not overly excited about the possibility of covering a nice deer leg with a bunch of canned pineapple, etc.and coating it in a layer of corn syrup candy coating.
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#3505767 - 12/18/13 08:31 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: TAFKAP]
TheRealSpurhunter
8 Point


Registered: 10/09/13
Posts: 1366
Loc: Cleveland & Bedford CO

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I wish I could, but I am an absolute newbie when it comes to curing or anything resembling charcuterie. I make summer sausage, but have so far used preassembled kits as a starter. I do smoke extensily, and have done some 20 hr cooks at very low temps, (180*) but thats as far as I have gone.

My buddy Robtatoo has extensive experience in curing, I will tell him to check this thread.
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#3505861 - 12/18/13 09:33 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: TheRealSpurhunter]
Robtattoo
4 Point


Registered: 08/14/12
Posts: 213
Loc: Tullahoma, TN.

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It sounds like your wet-cure is about perfect. The pre-aging, dry is hugely important & 14 days for a deer ham should be about right. You need to remove a lot of the original moisture, so that the brine has somewhere to go.
Once you get it out of the brine, rinse it & then let it dry age again for 2 or 3 days. That really gets the enzymes going.
As far as cooking goes, I've only ever done pork ham. Either boiled or roast (the only glaze I've ever used is honey & mustard in the last hour of cooking)
I'd like to try a quick smoke & then oven roast.
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#3506187 - 12/18/13 12:43 PM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: Robtattoo]
TAFKAP
14 Point


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 9536
Loc: Memphis

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Interesting perspective....thanks for the pointers. I figured that the pre-aging part was just pissing into the wind. Glad do know I stumbled in the right direction \:D

What's the goal for the oven roast (after smoking....smoking is a definite)? Low and slow, or neighborhood of 350° until the center comes up to 160°?
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#3506550 - 12/18/13 04:35 PM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: TAFKAP]
Robtattoo
4 Point


Registered: 08/14/12
Posts: 213
Loc: Tullahoma, TN.

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Tough to say with pork having a higher fat content, low & slow after the initial 1-2 hour smoke won't dry it as much.
I'd say (as a guess) 325-350° at the rate of 45 minutes per pound (knock off 25% for the bone)
Roast covered for the first half, uncovered for the second & baste. Probably wouldn't hurt to throw 2 or 3 glasses of good red wine in the pan. Baste with a 80/20 honey/mustard glaze in the last hour.
Let it sit (covered) for at least 30 minutes before carving.
I'd use the juice/glaze mix, plus salt pepper & ground Rosemary to make a thick gravy/sauce.
If it comes out anything liked the hams I've done, it should be as good cold as hot.
Please though, bear in mind I've only ever done this with farm raised pigs.
I do have a wild hog ham in the freezer though.......


Edited by Robtattoo (12/18/13 04:35 PM)
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#3506557 - 12/18/13 04:41 PM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: Robtattoo]
Robtattoo
4 Point


Registered: 08/14/12
Posts: 213
Loc: Tullahoma, TN.

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Crap, scrap those times. That'd have it well done (although it may still be tender, with the cure). Probably 20 minutes per pound of meat.
Sorry, got lost in pig nostalgia there! \:\)
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#3506562 - 12/18/13 04:46 PM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: Robtattoo]
TAFKAP
14 Point


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 9536
Loc: Memphis

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With large roasts, I'm not going by time anyway. I always use a thermometer.....
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#3506622 - 12/18/13 05:36 PM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: TAFKAP]
DaveB
10 Point


Registered: 09/03/08
Posts: 4023
Loc: Shelby County

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I am wondering about the smoking component and at what temp you say the beast is done? My experience is venison not on the rare side can be well, unappealing to the taste. I am stuck on after letting it air dry for a day or two the smoker for how long? and at what temp? I am kinda lost so will sure be interesting to see the finale. AND I Live close by......
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#3507197 - 12/18/13 10:50 PM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: DaveB]
TAFKAP
14 Point


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 9536
Loc: Memphis

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Well, I'm completely in uncharted territory here. I think the cure-brining process will flavor the meat, while helping it stay moist. I don't know that over cooking really changes the flavor so much as just drying it out. There are plenty of examples of smoked venison that came out well, but weren't cured.

I'm thinking about an hour to 90 minutes of true smoking time. Again, this is purely for flavor. Depending on the meat temperature at that point, I may just leave it in the smoker to finish. Otherwise, I'm pulling it off the grate and brining it inside to cook in the higher temp oven. But as far as temperature goes, I have no clue…..I'm just taking input here. Likely in the neighborhood of 160 is my final goal.
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#3507200 - 12/18/13 10:52 PM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: TAFKAP]
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Mud Dauber
16 Point


Registered: 07/28/10
Posts: 12858
Loc: Tennessee

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Have you thought about finishing it with a braise?
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It doesn't have to be fun to be fun.

Wild & crazy, can't be stopped. Only the strong will survive.

Keep your knife sharp and your skillet greasy.

http://www.GoCarnivore.com

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#3507220 - 12/18/13 11:21 PM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: Poser]
TAFKAP
14 Point


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 9536
Loc: Memphis

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 Originally Posted By: Poser
Have you thought about finishing it with a braise?


No. In my mind, I'm thinking of the big, firm spiral-cut ham. Are you thinking it might not be achievable?
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#3507418 - 12/19/13 08:21 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: TAFKAP]
FULLDRAWXX75
12 Point


Registered: 01/29/07
Posts: 6234
Loc: Adirondack Mtns, NY

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 Originally Posted By: TAFKAP
Well, I'm completely in uncharted territory here. I think the cure-brining process will flavor the meat, while helping it stay moist. I don't know that over cooking really changes the flavor so much as just drying it out. There are plenty of examples of smoked venison that came out well, but weren't cured.

I'm thinking about an hour to 90 minutes of true smoking time. Again, this is purely for flavor. Depending on the meat temperature at that point, I may just leave it in the smoker to finish. Otherwise, I'm pulling it off the grate and brining it inside to cook in the higher temp oven. But as far as temperature goes, I have no clue…..I'm just taking input here. Likely in the neighborhood of 160 is my final goal.



I would think 160* would be the max. top end internal temp. you would want to achieve med without overcooking it. I personally would pull it from the heat between 150-155* and let rest covered for @ 30mins. it will continue to cook after removed.

FDXX75


Edited by FULLDRAWXX75 (12/19/13 08:22 AM)
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#3507480 - 12/19/13 09:12 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: FULLDRAWXX75]
TAFKAP
14 Point


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 9536
Loc: Memphis

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 Originally Posted By: FULLDRAWXX75
 Originally Posted By: TAFKAP
Well, I'm completely in uncharted territory here. I think the cure-brining process will flavor the meat, while helping it stay moist. I don't know that over cooking really changes the flavor so much as just drying it out. There are plenty of examples of smoked venison that came out well, but weren't cured.

I'm thinking about an hour to 90 minutes of true smoking time. Again, this is purely for flavor. Depending on the meat temperature at that point, I may just leave it in the smoker to finish. Otherwise, I'm pulling it off the grate and brining it inside to cook in the higher temp oven. But as far as temperature goes, I have no clue…..I'm just taking input here. Likely in the neighborhood of 160 is my final goal.



I would think 160* would be the max. top end internal temp. you would want to achieve med without overcooking it. I personally would pull it from the heat between 150-155* and let rest covered for @ 30mins. it will continue to cook after removed.

FDXX75


I understand that for a roasted hunk of meat. But for a cured "ham"? It seems to me that the texture of the meat would be a little too squishy below about 160°....what do the ham houses do with pig legs?
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#3507555 - 12/19/13 10:12 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: TAFKAP]
Poser
Mud Dauber
16 Point


Registered: 07/28/10
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I guess it will be a matter of what effect the brine has during the cooking, which is a bit unknown for this method. I've done smoked venison and I've corned venison for braising, but never combined the two like this. When I smoked venison, the problem I had was the meat inching close to 160, but not being broken down enough for pulling. To combat this, I finish it in a shallow braise, low and slow, checking internal temp every 30 minutes. Pastrami is a little similar in that you smoke a cut and, before serving, you simmer it for 2-3 hours.

You might be ready for anything. -have a roasting pan, lots of foil and some stock on hand if you need to braise, or you might just be able to finish it in foil. Its all going to depend on the texture of the meat at about 140 or so. Does it still feel rubbery? Is it starting to pull away from the bone? This will be a gametime decision.
_________________________
It doesn't have to be fun to be fun.

Wild & crazy, can't be stopped. Only the strong will survive.

Keep your knife sharp and your skillet greasy.

http://www.GoCarnivore.com

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#3507718 - 12/19/13 12:35 PM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: Poser]
TAFKAP
14 Point


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 9536
Loc: Memphis

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I've been Googling "wet cured ham recipes" for over a week now, and can't believe I never threw in the word "venison" in there.

Here's best one I've found so far. It also appears that I'm pretty well in line with most brines, although my salt value is a bit high. I'm 1:1:1 with salt/white sugar/brown sugar, while many recipes reduce the salt to about 1/2. I'm also using more brown sugar (since I depleted our white sugar), and I think it'll help mellow the sweet taste a bit.

This looks about as close to my goal as I've seen. However, the texture of roast beef isn't quite my desired result.
http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/131711/cured-venison-ham-s
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#3517903 - 12/27/13 07:31 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: TAFKAP]
WMAn
8 Point


Registered: 11/05/10
Posts: 1204
Loc: Williamson County

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Update?
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#3517995 - 12/27/13 08:27 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: WMAn]
Twinshooter
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Yeah, update us, let us know you are still with us.
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#3518081 - 12/27/13 09:13 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: Twinshooter]
Inkstainz
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Registered: 08/23/12
Posts: 7636
Loc: Memphis, Tennessee

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Ya an update
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#3521735 - 12/30/13 12:42 AM Re: Attempt at a "City Ham" [Re: Inkstainz]
TAFKAP
14 Point


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 9536
Loc: Memphis

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OK, so there's really not much of an update right now. I pulled the meat out and rinsed it tonight, and it is looking pretty good. I boiled a couple cups of the brine for a taste test, and decided it was way too salty. So I poured out about 3/4 of the original brine and added fresh water back into the mix. This ought to temper the meat's salt content just enough to start cooking soon. The meat looks good, and the bones have changed color from white to a pinkish hue (no bone rot is evident). Also, from where I injected brine inside the meat, all the muscles are still pretty well expanded and full of liquid.

So overnight tonight, the meat is "tempering" in the watered down brining solution. Tomorrow, I'll make room in the curing fridge, and hang the ham to dry. Smoking will begin on Tuesday morning.

Outside of the ham


Inside of the ham


End shot of the bone….you can see the color change a bit.


And here's the newly-christened curing fridge. Currently, it's hanging some ducks to age. All the mallards in this shot were eaten tonight, so there's plenty of room to hang the ham up to dry out.
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