As we approach November now is the time we should start to think about making our Christmas Gammons. The big advantage with making your own is that you are in total control of both the flavour and how salty it is. It is as simple to make as bacon and once cured and smoked it can be frozen until required.
For your gammon you will need a leg of pork - rolled boned leg of pork is fine. It is up to you whether you remove the skin - personally I do. A whole rolled leg of pork can be quite large so it is best cut into sections of about 1 Kg and, if necessary, the sections re-tied with butchers string.
Unlike dry cured bacon where we apply the dry rub to the outside, for the gammon we we are going to create a concentrated curing brine which we will inject into the meat. This helps to ensure an even flavour throughout. The cure calculations are the same as for making dry cure bacon however it is best to slightly increase the salt levels as gammon is traditionally salty. When we cure the gammon ourselves we can increase the salt by just a small amount for the full flavour - but not so much that the joint needs to be soaked prior to cooking as in many commercial gammon joints.
3% salt is a good level to use for Gammon.
Make the water for the brine
First we make a batch of flavoured water for the brine that encompasses all of the aromas of Christmas. This can be made in volume and then only the required amount used from this to cure each each joint.
1 litre of water
5 g Star Anise
1 Bay leaf - fresh or dried
10 g cinnamon stick
15 g fresh ginger - sliced thinly
10 g Coriander seeds
5 g Black pepper
6 Clove buds
4 g Fresh garlic - crushed
1/4 of a grated nutmeg
Place all of the ingredients into a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 5 minutes and then allow to cool to room temperature. Strain and retain the liquid for making the injection brine.
Prepare the rub
Combine the following ingredients in a grinder and grind to a powder. Sieve through a fine kitchen sieve to remove any large lumps
5 g Nurmeg
5 g Cinnamon powder
6 g Lemon pepper
5 g Garlic powder
5 g Coriander seeds
10 Clove buds
This is applied to the surface of the meat after it has been injected with the brine. It is used at a rate of 5 g per Kg of meat
Curing the meat
Weigh each of the pieces of pork leg and calculate the amount of cure and sugar required for each.
Nitrite - 150 Ppm (mg/Kg)
Salt - 3%
Sugar - 1.5 % - white or Demerara sugar
Flavoured water - 1/10th of the weight of the meat
Examples of weights used in 4 joints being cured
Cure #1 (g)
For each joint mix together the cure ingredients in the water and stir to dissolve and make the brine. Place the joint in a dish and using a Flavour Injector (cooking syringe) inject all of the brine evenly throughout the meat. Some of the brine will come out of the meat and into the tray - do not worry about this as any excess brine will be added back into the curing bag.
Sprinkle the rub (5 g of rub per Kg meat) over the joint and place in a Ziplock bag or vac-pack bag. Pour in any remaining brine that came out of the meat.
Seal the bag and then place in the fridge. Turn daily for 10 days to ensure that the brine remains in contact with the surface of the meat.
Remove from bag and rinse under cold running water. Allow to dry before smoking and re-packing for Christmas.
The flavoured brine gives a subtle Christmas flavour to the meat which is not in the least overpowering. In our house this has become one of our most popular Boxing Day meats.