Curing pork questions: cheeks and knuckles
For some reason I don't remember any more, I decided that the best way to learn how to cure a ham would be to get some knuckles (whole pork hocks) and bacon-ize them. I don't know why I thought this, it was pre-christmas holiday crazy time and the meat was on sale... But never mind that, it happened, now to decide the next step.
I used my standard bacon dry cure for the knuckles, and added in same amount of extra salt (all measurements by weight) because I was concerned that the cure wouldn't penetrate the skin. It seems I was right. It has been curing three weeks (bacon takes less than 10 days) and there are still soft (uncured texture) bits in the middle of the hock.
Should I leave it to cure longer until completely firm or smoke it now? I'm almost confident it won't go rotten with the amount of salt I added, but I do want the flavour to penetrate throughout the meat. I was half toying with the idea of hanging it, but I used #1 salt instead of #2 which would be for drying meat, but then again, I've dried meat successfully without any curing salts, #1 or #2, so maybe it would be alright. Or if I'm not going to dry it, should I soak it in water to lessen the saltiness before smoking?
So undecided what to do next. Need help focusing my thoughts on these hocks.
Also, with pork jowls for guanciale, what am I looking for to know when the initial curing is finished? These ones I actually did follow a recipe, and they have at least 5 more days of curing to go, but no change in texture. They have been intensely firm right from the beginning.