Cured Ham For Christmas
The Swedish tradition is to have a home cured ham or "Jul Skinka" for Christmas (complete movie below). To do this I cure a bone-less pork leg for 10 days in a salt brine. After 10 days in the brine, the pork leg is boiled, then left in the water over night.
The following day the ham is removed from the water (reserve some of the water for another dish "Dopp i Gryta"), most of the fat is trimmed of, then cover the ham with a sweet mustard, sprinkle bread crumbs on it and then broil in the oven for only about 5 minutes to make a crust of the mustard and bread crumbs.
Here are the ingredients:
- 5 Kg boneless pork leg, with the rind on it. The rind should NOT be scored.
For The Brine:
- 1.4 Kg of Coarse salt
- 1 pealed potato
- 1 pealed Carrot, cut into 2-4 pieces
- 2 bay leafs
- 15 whole pepper corns (5 white and 10 black)
- Fresh Water
- Preheat oven to 450 under broil or high setting.
- Sweet Mustard or use Dijon (I prefer Grey Poupon) and brown sugar and or honey.
- Bread Crumbs
|Christmas Ham or Jul Skinka|
Put the pork leg in the pot, add water so it is about 1 inch (2.5cm) above the meat. Remove meat.
Add the pealed potato to the water and start adding salt while stirring. Continue to add salt while stirring till the potato floats. Once it floats you have the right amount of salt content in the water.
Return the meat to the brine. The meat will more then likely want to float so you may have to put a plastic cup on top of the meat so the lid will keep the meat in the brine.
The meat must be submerged in the brine at all time. Keep pot in a cool place, in the fridge if you have room or in a cool basement is fine. For us on the balcony is fine in the winter.
Leave for 10 days in the brine, check on it every 2-3 days to make sure it is submerged in the brine. Write down in your day timer a reminder 10 days from now.
Ten days later.
The meat is now cured and needs to be boiled. Remove the meat from the brine, and discard the brine, rinse out the pot with cold water, rinse the meat well. Return the meat to the pot and fill with fresh cold water. The water should cover the meat.
Add the carrot, bay leafs and pepper corns and set the pot on the stove. Boil gently for about 35-50 minutes per Kg. I use a meat thermometer to get inside temperature to 71°C or 160°F.
For a ham like this I prefer to cook it a bit more then say a pork tenderloin where 145°F or 63°C is my preference.
An old belief is that you have to cook pork over 170°F or 77°C. The reason for this theory was to prevent trichinosis a disease that comes from the larva of the parasitic round-worm Trichina. Should the meat be infected which by the way is very, very rare in Canada and the USA, the larva dies at 137°F or 59°C, so cooking to 145°F or 63°C is plenty good for other cuts.
Once the meat is boiled, leave it in the broth over night in a cold place and the next morning move the meat to a large cutting board, trim off the rind and fat, leaving only about an ⅛ of an inch.
Wipe the meat dry with a towel or paper towel.
Cover generously with mustard then sprinkle with bread crumbs and on an oven proof dish insert into a preheated oven for about 5 minutes, or till the mustard and crumbs start to bubble. Watch this very closely, it burns really easy.
Remove from the oven and let sit to cool. Once the ham has cooled, decorate with a mixture of icing sugar, water, and food colouring.
Serve cold with all the other dishes you have for Christmas. The ham should be sliced fairly thin, about an ⅛ of an inch thick. This ham will keep for weeks in the fridge.
Wine Pairing and Recommendations:With Christmas dinner (especially Swedish style) I prefer a nice dark beer. Try a "Black Toque India Dark Ale" from Phillips Brewing Company here in Victoria, BC. They make a wonderful beer.