How To Make A Delicious Country Ham
The Tradition of Country Ham
Country ham is a long-standing tradition in Southern cuisine. This dry-cured salted ham has a rich intense flavor making it a favorite for many. While it might seem daunting to make your own country ham with a little time patience you can easily create this mouthwatering delicacy in your own kitchen.
Choosing the Right Cut of Meat
To begin making country ham start with a bone-in pork leg. The butt portion of the leg also known as the Picnic Ham is commonly used for country hams. It is flavorful has a good ratio of meat to fat. Look for a ham that weighs around 12-15 pounds for optimal results.
Preparing the Meat
Once you have your pork leg you need to carefully trim away excess fat leaving around ¼ inch of fat on the ham’s outer surface. Be sure to remove any unwanted glands or muscle tendons as well. Rinse the ham with cold water to remove any bone dust or impurities pat it dry with a clean towel.
Curing the Ham
Traditionally country hams are cured with a mixture of salt sugar other spices. You can create your own curing blend by combining 1 cup of salt ½ cup of brown sugar additional spices like black pepper garlic powder paprika. Thoroughly rub this mixture all over the ham ensuring that every inch is covered. Place the ham in a large sturdy plastic bag seal it tightly.
Allowing the Ham to Cure
After sealing the ham in the bag you need to let it cure for a specific amount of time. The general rule of thumb is to allow the ham to cure for one day per pound of weight. For example if you have a 12-pound ham it should cure for 12 days. Keep the ham in a refrigerator or a cool dry place flipping it massaging it every other day to ensure the flavors permeate evenly.
Smoking the Ham
Once the curing process is complete it’s time to smoke the ham. You can use a smoker or a grill with indirect heat for best results. Soak wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before smoking as this will add a delightful smoky flavor to the ham. Place the ham on the smoker or grill maintain a low temperature of around 200-225°F. Smoke the ham for about 4-6 hours until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.
After smoking remove the ham from the heat let it rest for at least 30 minutes. Country hams are typically sliced thin for serving. You can store the leftover ham in a freezer-safe bag or wrap it tightly in aluminum foil it will keep well in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Now that you have mastered the art of making a country ham you can enjoy this Southern delicacy in the comfort of your own home. Serve it with biscuits red-eye gravy or use it as a flavorful ingredient in various dishes—the possibilities are endless. Happy cooking!