Susan is a recipe tester for Food52.
Check out Michael Ruhlman's website, http://ruhlman.com/2012..., and also his books, "Salumi" and "Charcuterie". I've made several recipes from "Charcuterie" including duck prosciutto, and they have all been excellent. Easy for beginners, too!
Thank you for the link, looks interesting.
I will definitely look in to the book!
Are you making your own prosciutto? IT isn't as easy as just salting, drying and aging. There are dangers to be aware of, such as how careful your are to remove the aitch bone, without putting any knife cuts in the cushion. There has been out breaks of botulism in Europe through the years because of the knife cuts in the meat during any partial deboning contaminating the meat. The tradition of drying is following the change of the seasons. The best dry cured hams where made in the mountains, killing the pig in the fall, salting the ham through the Winter and starting the drying through Spring and Summer as the temperature and humidity change and having the mountain breezes helping with the process. The biggest mistake in drying a ham is having too low a humidity and too high a temperature, which causes crusting on the outside of the ham, which inhibits the drying process. Also, when making prosciutto, there is the step of coating the lean with lard mixed with pepper. Serrano skips this step.
Thanks for you answer!
I am trying to make salted, smoked pork leg that I saw in Montenegro a few years ago, it was amazing! I was consulted on the preparation method by a native Prosciutto maker. The process involves: salting the meat, 15 to 20 days buried in sea salt, pressing for 10 days on each side, smoking and drying.
The smoking process takes about 3 month a few hours every day! This changes the color of the meat to dark red! It’s a cold smoking process.
Last year one leg turned to salty so I cut down on the salting time and the next one turned good!
Several things I am still trying to find answers for:
1. If the drying process goes through the seasons, what are the temperatures and humidity % of the different seasons?
2. I have seen that some test is performed by inserting a wooden stick in the meat and them smelling it! Any Ideas!
3. Is it OK to completely de bone the leg! I guess not!
You will be very hard pressed to have anyone give their time/humidity/temperature schedule to you. I know it was guarded in my family . . .it was what gave the uniqueness to the product. The test needle should be a horse bone. Wood could be a problem, especially if you choose the wrong wood (open grain vs close grain) and did you seal the wood. I am not familiar with the ham from Montenegro, but the methods are not far off from an American country style ham. I would check right here, in this country with people from the South. Maybe one of them will share their methods. The good part about smoking is smoke is a natural bacterial inhibitor and it does have a drying effect. Also, weigh your salt in direct ratio to the weight of the green ham and apply. You can then get the targeted % finished salt based on targeted finished weight. If you use a little more science vs seat of the pants, you will end up with a more consistent product.
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