Two years ago my mom called me with the most absurd idea…she was going to make her own ham.  Having never entertained the thought, I thought she had lost her marbles.   Why would anyone go through the trouble of curing their own ham when you can buy a perfectly good one for cheap?  And how would one go about curing it anyway???    One week later, I received calls about how tasty her ham is, how much ham she ate, how she will never buy another, blah, blah, blah.

I am not a huge lover of ham, I like a good ham sandwich but won’t bat an eyelash if it was missing from my holiday table but that’s because I’ve never had home cured ham before.   Let me just say I’ve been eating chunks of this ham all day!  It’s that good!!  I find that I like the texture and flavor a lot more than the store bought hams.  The process is pretty easy, anyone can do it.  Buy a fresh piece of ham, which is usually the leg portion of the pig, and wet cure it  for a few days.  You can choose to either smoke it or just plain ol’ bake it like I did.

Let me just say I’m not ham connoisseur.  I researched a bit and will share a few tips that I’ve learned:

  • Ham can either be wet or dry cured.
  • To wet cure a ham, let it sit at a rate of 2lb per day.  My ham was 5lbs, I let it cure for 2 1/2 days.
  • Use a curing salt, which  has 6.25% sodium nitrate.  This prevents the teeny, tiny chance of botulism and gives the meat a rosy, pink color.  I’d say that’s a pretty darn big deal; a pretty piece of meat that doesn’t cause paralysis…. I purchased mine at Williams-Sonoma.  This tiny jar will be used several times since you only use a few teaspoons  each time you cure.
  • The use of curing salt will allow you to keep you ham at room temperature or for a long time.

Source: Williams-Sonoma

Here’s the recipe I used, I found it over here.

Ham Cure

1 fresh ham, this will be raw, uncooked or cure piece of pork leg.

2 liters water

3/4 cup kosher salt

1 cup brown sugar

4 tsp pink salt

2 tbsp pickling spice

Place all ingredients but the ham in a large pot.  Stir until dissolved.  Add ham.   Make sure the ham is completely covered.  I doubled this recipe to cover my ham entirely.

Place in refrigerator and allow to cure at a rate of 2lbs per day.   After ham is cured, remove from brine and rinse.   Soak in fresh water for 2 hours to remove some of the salt.  You can smoke it, glaze and bake it or fry it, the choice is yours…I baked mine.

How I prepared my ham:

In a 325 degree oven, bake ham at 20 minutes per pound.    Remove from oven and allow to cool just a bit as you will be removing the skin.   With a sharp knife, remove the skin leaving some of the fat still connected to the meat (You can use the skin to make chicharon).   Score the ham diagonally.   Slather with glaze.  Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Hot and Sweet Ginger Glaze

1/2 cup marmalade

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

2 tbsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp fresh crushed ginger

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp ground pimento

Mix all ingredients together.   Generously cover ham with glaze.