Back to the ham, I had a Panini today made with Hoosier’s ham. It was fantastic, Mark (our day sous chef) did the sweet and smoky ham up with Robinson Farm’s (Hardwick, MA) Family Swiss and dill pickled onions served on Raul’s (our baker) sandwich bread. I enjoyed with some of our homemade fries and Alex’s (our long-time lunch cook) tangy ketchup.
My lunch, fries were added after I took the photo.
Making dry cured sausage is simple; grind some meat mix it with spices, stuff it into casings and hang it to dry in a fairly humid, cool space, then wait. To quote Tom Petty “the waiting is the hardest part”. Three-ish weeks later, if all goes well you have a beautiful semi-dried full flavored, rich, fatty, dry, slightly tangy, cured sausage. I have made this recipe many times with varied results, mostly great. However, once in a while I have gotten a batch that just doesn’t work. Don’t worry when it’s not right it’s obvious, it does not have the rosy meat color you expect from air-dried cured meat, it looks kinda gross and smells rotten.
Below is a pictorial of the steps we used to turn Hoosier’s fat and flesh into Saucisson Sec (dry-cured sausage).
Ground pork mixed with spices.
The trusty hand cranked sausage stuffer, many hundreds of pounds of sausage have been made using this beast over the 15 plus years we have had it.
I’m pushing out the sausage into casings.
Sizing them up.
Hanging them to dry in our curing room, next to some duck prosciutto that is just about done.
Three weeks hanging and they’re done.
Though we still have quite a bit of Hoosier left to use; most notably the head and a bunch of meat to braise, it may be a while before we get into it. I will continue to write about as we utilize it.
After two plus weeks in brine and 14 hours in the smoker Hoosier’s American Style Smoked Hams are done and they are beautiful; sweet, smoky, moist and tender. We have been making this style of hams for many years, tweaking the recipe and methods to ensure a great ham every time.
Hoosier’s hams – each ham is cut into three pieces, brined, tied, smoked, chilled and sliced.
Smoking our own hams bring us much more than ham (the meat). The meat could end up in ham sandwiches, part of a pasta dish, paired with cheese for a first course or even as a ham steak. The skin makes a smoky gelatinous stock we often use in pigs skin risotto, soups and stews. Scraps and bits are often used as a flavoring ingredient, such as in our Bangkok Chicken Wings where we pair the sweet ‘n’ smoky ham with Thai fish sauce, lime juice and spicy chilies. We also always place a pan directly under the smoker to collect the drippings (liquid bacon), which finds its way into vinaigrette, sauces and marinades.
The fat that surrounds the ham, often 1 1/2″ to 2″ thick is freaking amazing. Currently on our menu are Ham Fat-Potato Croquettes. We take two parts diced ham fat and combine it with one part mashed potato, roll it into balls, bread ’em and then fry ’em. We’re serving them with mustard cream and last summer’s pickles.
A few of the dishes we are / have served using Hoosier’s hams-
Blue Corn Biscuits with Backroom Smoked Ham, Pete’s Sweet Pickles and Robinson Farm’s Swiss Cheese
Bangkok Chicken Wings
Sliced and served with local Burratina, arugula and Pete’s Pickled Peppers
Ham Fat Croquettes
The next post will be about Saucisson Sec, a dry cured sausage we made from Hoosier.