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Wade

Christmas Gammon

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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.

Ingredients:

  • 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.

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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

Joint # 1 2 3 4
Weight (g) 868 1,175 1,278 1,563
Cure #1 (g) 2.1 2.8 3.1 3.8
Salt (g) 24 32 35 43
Sugar (g) 13 18 19 23
Water (g) 87 118 128 156

 

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. 

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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. 

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Brilliant, I am in.  Will do soon as I cut up the bacon and make some room in fridge. The usual limiting factor

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Hi Wade,

I've only just started playing around with bacon and smoking.  I was wondering if by smoking the gammon after curing you mean cold smoking or hot smoking?  I don't really have a setup for hot smoking yet (have a small weber only 18" kettle) so if you cant hot smoke the joint could you cold smoke and bake in the oven or slow simmer in water?  Would it lose the smoke flavour if simmered? and how long would you recommend to cold smoke for. if at all?

 

thanks for any advice.

Jacqui

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Hi Jacqui

Yes I meant cold smoking. It was to add a smokey flavour before cooking. If you follow the recipe it will result in a maximum salt content of about 2.5% and the required seasonal spices - which means that it can simply be roasted as a joint. You could boil it, however gammon is usually boiled to remove some excess salt and to impart additional flavour to the meat. Here you have added the flavour in the brine injection and have only added just the right amount of salt. If you boil it you are likely to remove the flavour that you have taken so much effort to put in.

You are good to go. Cold smoke it in the Weber and then allow time for the smoke flavour to diffuse into the meat. You can then either roast it in the oven or in the BBQ - or if you feel adventurous you could sous vide it.

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Missed this, will give it ago for boxing day I think. If I was to start this next week, once cured and smoked, it would still keep in the fridge till boxing day if I vacpac it? Or best left another couple of weeks before starting.

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Yes it will keep. If you have concerns leave it a week in the fridge for the smoke to diffuse and then freeze until Christmas

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Thanks for the reply, always think of one more question you should have asked.

Family members have also asked for a couple also, so going to do 3 pieces, what sort of time for cold smoking do you suggest for 3 x 1.5 kg pieces  in a bullet smoker all done together, with a ProQ cold smoke generator.

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Smoke for about 16 hours. This can be split over a couple of nights if reuired however the days are starting to get uite cool now too.

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Just noticed that the letter "cue" isnt working on my (cannot type the letter itself obviously). New keyboard on order and should arrive Tuesday. Untill then I just havent got a cue 🙂

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Done 3 pieces of Packington Farm Free Range Pork Legs this morning ranging between 1.2 - 1.4Kg for myself and family. If it tastes as good as the brine and rub smell, it will be gorgeous, I am sure. 

The house smells of Christmas, with the brine and rub being mixed and boiled. 😀

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Question for piece of mind, it has been brining for 10 days now, another 4-7 to go. Just want to check that the brine makes the meat go very dark (brown) in colour, as it certainly isn't pink anymore and cant see it being, after washing off the brine? I used coconut sugar in the brine, but would imagine the brine would have been very dark in colour, due to the other ingredients, even if I had used granulated sugar

Smells very christmasy, even in the bag.

p.s. Do you bother glazing it, when cooking it, or is it already flavoured enough to not need it.

Edited by sotv

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Post up a photo if you are unsure - but yes the sugar and the Nitrite will both cause the colour the meat to darken.

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Hi,

So i'm planning on having a crack at this Christmas Ham joint. I've noticed what appears to be my first mistake, I've bought Saltpetre Potassium Nitrate, & it appears I need to be using Sodium Nitrite? Can someone confirm the following for me please?

A. Is potassium Nitrate unsuitable for injection brining the Ham?
UPDATE: Further reading tells me this is for dry curing meats that will not be cooked.

B. Where is best to source sodium nitrite?
Update: Further reading says Cure#1 is what i'm after?

C. I notice that some sites show Cure#1 at a mix of 6.25% nitrite to 93.75% salt, but others show 0.6% nitrite in salt. Unless i'm missing something these ratios aren't the same, which is correct? 
UPDATE: I see 6.25% is the US recommendation & 0.6% is the EU recommendation. Which is preferred & which do the examples in this thread use?
UPDATE2: Had a read of this thread 

Very insightful, however i'm still not sure on the US 6.25% / EU 0.6%

D. @Wade Is your bacon cure calculator available to download somewhere please? 

Cheers n Gone Nick 

Edited by Skagg2000
Further reading

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Hi NIck

12 hours ago, Skagg2000 said:

A. Is potassium Nitrate unsuitable for injection brining the Ham?
UPDATE: Further reading tells me this is for dry curing meats that will not be cooked.

You should not use the potassium Nitrate alone for this type of ham. Although the Nitrate will help to give you the colour and flavour but it is not the active agent for preserving the meat. For this you nead the Nitrite. Whilst the Nitrate will slowly convert to Nitrite this takes time and so is primarily used for products that are going to be cured over a period on months - usually air dried.
It is actually OK to cook meats at lower temperatures that have had Nitrate added (e.g. roasting and smoking) - it is when they are taken up to the higher temperatures (e.g. when frying bacon) that the risk of nitrosamine production increases. As the meats used for roasting/smoking are not usually stored unrefrigerated for long periods the Nitrate is not required anyway so it is easier to use the general rule that it should not be added to meats that will be cooked.

12 hours ago, Skagg2000 said:

B. Where is best to source sodium nitrite?
Update: Further reading says Cure#1 is what i'm after?

Buying food grade Sodium Nitrite in anything smaller than 25 Kg sacks is a bit of a challenge. I buy my pure Nitrite in smaller quantities from a laboratory supply company but it works out a lot more expensive that way. Having said that, everything is relative - a Kg of pure Nitrite will produce a lot of Cure#1

If you would like some Cure#1 please let me know and I will send some to you. Alternatively you can buy some online from Sausagemaking.org or from Weschenfelder.co.uk

13 hours ago, Skagg2000 said:

C. I notice that some sites show Cure#1 at a mix of 6.25% nitrite to 93.75% salt, but others show 0.6% nitrite in salt. Unless i'm missing something these ratios aren't the same, which is correct? 
UPDATE: I see 6.25% is the US recommendation & 0.6% is the EU recommendation. Which is preferred & which do the examples in this thread use?
UPDATE2: Had a read of this thread 

There can be slight variations in Nitrite concentrations from different vendors (which is why it is important to look at the composition before using it) but you will find that almost all use 6.25% NItrite in their Cure#1 / Prague powder #1. The 0.6% is normally only used in ready-to-use cure mixes to help beginners not add excess amounts of Nitrite. For what you are trying to do you are better off with the Cure #1 at 6.25%

13 hours ago, Skagg2000 said:

D. @Wade Is your bacon cure calculator available to download somewhere please? 

Mine is currently only in Excel but I am hoping to get it online. Happy to send it to you if you have access to Excel. 

There is a good one online that is widely used in the USA (though it is the only thing left on the site) and it is by DiggingDogFarm. Dont be put off by the broken links to the pictures on the page - the calculator still works well.

There is also an Apple app called iSmokeHog but I think this is only available as an Apple App.

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Morning Wade,

Really appreciate the comprehensive reply. Learning all the time!

I did work out how to use the online calculator at diggingdogfarm using the data in your extract as a comparison. Your Excel spreadsheet would be really useful to have offline. Let me know if I need to PM you an email to send it too.

Thanks for the offer of some Cure#1 but i placed an order for some last night after writing this post. Panic had set in given I have a defrosted gammon sat here & the wrong cure purchased for my intended use (Nitrate)

I'll keep you posted how I progress

Cheers n Gone Nick

 

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Injected rubbed vacced and in fridge, should be ready on christmas day for smoking and then ready matured smoke by new years day. I should have started earlier but was away, so on catch up, its ok. Thx to @Wade for getting some cure no 1 to me so quickly overnight. Brilliant mate, I owe you

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Still waiting on the Cure#1 turning up here from the place i purchased it. Hopefully tomorrow!

What is the wood chip of choice to cold smoke this joint please?

Also is there a recommended cooking / roasting time  by weight for Gammon based on this recipe? I wouldn't want to over cook it.

I see Julian mentioned adding a glaze, is this option or will it detract from the end product?

Cheers n Gone Nick

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I will be cooking the gammon till it has an internal temp of 170F,  however long that takes, same as i do, if cooking in the smoker. 

I normally do a honey and marmalade glaze with my gammon's, but as this is already spiced, going to just coat it with the juices from it during cooking so it doesn't dry out too much for my first go with it. To see how the flavours already in it, have worked when served up.

I used Silver Birch, but many different woods go with pork a few listed here

If I have been successful, with this one. I intend looking into doing just a plain salted gammon next time, that I can eat during the year and add my own glaze when cooking.

Edited by sotv

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12 hours ago, Skagg2000 said:

What is the wood chip of choice to cold smoke this joint please?

Also is there a recommended cooking / roasting time  by weight for Gammon based on this recipe? I wouldn't want to over cook it.

I see Julian mentioned adding a glaze, is this option or will it detract from the end product?

I like Hickory - but that is my go-to smoke flavour for most things. Use whatever smoking wood/pellets that you have (with maybe the exception of mesquite) and it will be good.

I like to roast mine at ~150 C (300 F) for as long as it takes to reach 76-80 C. You can also cook it in your smoker to add a little extra flavour (not that it really needs it)

The glaze will really only flavour the outside so adding one will not detract from the flavour of the meat itself. I sometimes use a glaze and sometimes don't. It works out well either way.

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Interesting question and opinions. 

Part of me think the Christmas flavours in the cure, I want to make sure I can detect those, and part of me things a sticky glaze is nice too, they should work in combination.

I usually use a mustard coating topped coated with dark sugar as a glaze.  I also like to do a diamond cut on the fat and stud with cloves but as there are cloves in the brine and the rub, I will skip that.

 Wood, choices galore, I usually use maple on bacon so i will do that again on this.

Question, how long do you cold smoke it for please? Is it important to keep the cold smoke chamber temp up at 20 like with salmon?

All this assuming the cure turns out ok!

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