Saturday, February 25, 2012

Country Life = Our Fresh Ham Misadventure

Last summer, we bought a pig at the fair to have butchered. Since this was a first for us, we didn't really know HOW we wanted it butchered. As in, what cuts we wanted. Of course we got several packages of pork chops, and roasts, and bacon, and sausage. All delicious.

The butcher asked if we wanted the hams smoked or fresh. Well, hmmm.

We told him to smoke one and leave one fresh.

We had no idea what we were talking about.

See that meat in the crockpots? Does that look like ham to you?

It turns out there are 3 kinds of ham:

City: this is what most folks are familiar with. It's what you buy pre-cooked in the grocery store, then you just throw it in the oven and bake it again. Heavenly - we love it.

Country: this is fresh ham that has been smoked.

Fresh: this is ham that hasn't been turned into ham. I know, that makes no sense, but trust me. Fresh ham is nothing at all like ham. It's like a giant pork roast.

And I'm not kidding about the giant part. This sucker weighed 20 pounds. And to make it worse, it had been frozen. I thawed it out, but not long enough. It was still frozen in the middle when I put it in the oven.

At noon. Planning on a 5:30 dinner. About 12:30, I started googling. That's when I learned about the 3 kinds of ham. And that this fresh ham would need at least 8 hours to cook.

Houston, we have a problem.

At 6, I took it out of the oven to check it's progress. We tore a tiny bit off the outside that we were sure was done, so we could eat. The rest went back in the oven.

At 8, we decided enough was enough. Back out of the oven it came. Stuck a fork in it. The red juices ran like a river. It was time to break out the crock pots.

It took 2 big ones to hold all the chunks I cut off that massive beast. They were filled to the lids.

I turned them on low, and let them cook all night.

By morning, they were done, but still not fork-tender. Geezy-weezy. I got out a knife and started cutting. No ham, or at least what we think of as ham. But we're going to eat BBQ pulled pork until the cows come home.

It took forever to cut it all up. The house smelled great though. It was flavored with pineapple juice, mustard, brown sugar, onion and BBQ sauce.

It's a good thing we REALLY like BBQ pulled pork. I stuffed it in sandwich bags - 12 of them, which are going in the freezer. That's on top of what we're eating fresh.

There are several lessons learned.

Next time, we will get the hams smoked.

And, it will NOT be another 20 pounder.

For one thing, we don't need that much meat at once.

For another thing, we don't have a roasting pan big enough to hold one.

As evidenced by my oven after I tried to bake the "ham" in an pan that wasn't big enough.

Oh yeah, that's going to be lots of fun to clean up.

The things we get ourselves into...........

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