Whether gracing a sandwich, complementing asparagus, or enhancing the flavors of delightful casseroles, premium homemade cooked ham remains a timeless culinary delight. Remarkably, creating your own cooked ham is a straightforward endeavor. For those fortunate enough to possess a sous-vide immersion circulator and a vacuum sealer, the path is clear. The delightfully succulent and tender flavor of homemade cooked ham distinguishes itself from store-bought alternatives. Furthermore, the added advantage lies in the ability to customize the seasoning to cater to individual tastes and preferences.
Choosing the Right Meat for Your Homemade Cooked Ham
In the classic art of preparing cooked ham, cuts sourced from a pig’s leg or shoulder are the stars of the show, often referred to as “Hinterschinken” (hind leg ham) or “Vorderschinken” (front leg ham). However, the options are not limited to traditional pork alone; venison or beef can also be excellent alternatives for crafting your own cooked ham. Embrace the spirit of experimentation to customize the process to your unique palate.
Crafting Your Own Cooked Ham at Home - Detailed Step-by-Step Guide
- 1 whole hind leg ham
- 500ml water
- 20g sugar
- 60g nitrite curing salt
- 1g ground caraway
- 2g ground black pepper
- 2g ginger powder
- 5g lemon powder (optional)
Additionally, you’ll require:
- Brine injection syringe
- Sous-vide immersion circulator
- Vacuum bags
- Vacuum sealer
Step 1: Prepare the Brine Begin by placing water and all the spices (except the curing salt) into a pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and then let it cool down. While it’s cooling, stir in the curing salt. You can either thoroughly mix the brine or, for best results, blend it using an immersion blender.
Step 2: Inject the Brine into the Meat Using a syringe, inject the brine evenly into the meat. Stop the injection process once the meat no longer absorbs liquid.
Step 3: Vacuum Sealing Take the meat and place it in a vacuum-sealed bag. Seal the bag using a vacuum sealer. Allow the meat to rest in the refrigerator for a period of 4 to 5 days.
Step 4: Gentle Cooking Despite its name, cooked ham isn’t boiled; instead, it undergoes gentle cooking in a water bath at a relatively low temperature. A sous-vide immersion circulator is particularly effective for this purpose. Preheat the sous-vide container to 70°C (158°F) using the immersion circulator, and cook the vacuum-sealed meat in the water bath for 4 hours. Once done, remove the meat from the vacuum-sealed bag, cover it, and let it cool. Your homemade cooked ham is now ready.
Note: To enhance the flavor profile, you might consider giving the ham a brief cold-smoking session (1-2 hours) after it has cooled. Ensure the ham’s surface is completely dry before smoking. Cherry wood is recommended for a gentle smokiness and improved appearance. If you lack a dedicated smoker, a charcoal grill can serve this purpose. After smoking, allow the ham to aerate in a cool environment for several hours.