Smithfield ham is a type of cured ham made from a pig’s hind legs. It is known for its unique flavour and texture, which is a result of the curing process that it undergoes. To make Smithfield ham, you will need to follow a few steps.
First, you will need to select a high-quality pork leg, ideally from a heritage breed pig. The leg should be clean and free of any excess fat or sinew. Once you have your pork leg, you must trim it and remove any bones.
Next, you will need to cure the pork leg. This is done by covering it with salts, sugar, and other curing agents, such as sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate. The leg is then placed in a container and left to cure for a while, usually between two and six months. The curing process helps preserve the meat while giving it its distinctive flavour and texture.
After the curing process, the ham is then hung to dry for several weeks to reduce the moisture content of the meat, which helps to develop the flavour and texture.
Once dry, the ham is then smoke-cured. This is done by exposing the ham to smoke from burning wood chips. The type of wood used can greatly affect the final product’s flavour. Hickory and apple wood are commonly used to smoke Smithfield hams.
Finally, the ham is aged for several months, allowing the flavours to fully develop. After aging, the ham is ready to be sliced and enjoyed.
Making Smithfield ham is time-consuming, but it is well worth the effort for the delicious final product.
It is important to note that the Smithfield Ham and Products Preservation Guild regulates the process of making Smithfield ham, which is responsible for certifying hams that meet the traditional standards for curing, ageing, and smoking. Only hams that have been certified by the Guild can be labelled as Smithfield hams.
In conclusion, to make a Smithfield Ham at home, it’s important to have the right equipment, including a curing chamber or refrigerator, and the right curing agents, such as pink salt. Additionally, it’s important to follow the safety guidelines and instructions for handling and storing the raw pork leg and the cured ham.