Have you considered making your own smoked meat? Here is an easy beginner project for do-it-yourself-ers which yields delicious and quick results. In this recipe, the meat is cured for four hours, then smoked for less than two hours. It uses traditional Black Forest spices and recommends smoking with pine chips, as they do in the "Schwarzwald".
Makes about 1 1/2 pounds of smoked meat.
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours, 30 minutes
- 1 kg. fatty part of loin or ham, no more than two inches thick
- ***Dry Cure***
- 4 oz. kosher salt
- 2 oz. sugar
- 1/2 oz. pink salt
- ***Spice Rub***
- 2 T. peppercorns
- 2 T. juniper berries
- 10 bay leaves
- 2 tsp. coriander
- 2 tsp. dried marjoram
- Pine and/or juniper wood chips
- Smoker or grill
- Meat thermometer
Black Forest ham takes several months to make. It is cold smoked (low temperatures) and air dried. While that is best done by professionals, we amateurs can use some of the same tricks to mimic the taste and appeal of this "Schinken". That is especially important when we cannot buy the real thing.
If you have never smoked meat, a good places to start are the articles "Smoke" and "Smoking on a Charcoal Grill" by our barbecue guide, Derrick. This recipe is adapted from the recipe for Tasso Ham (a Creole delicacy) in "Charcuterie" by Michael Ruhlman, a well written cookbook on sausages, hams, bacon and other preserved foods.
This "ham" can be made from almost any piece of meat off the hog. I used part of the rib meat connected to the loin. This piece of meat consists of many smaller muscles held together by fat and sinew and is not often purchased for fresh eating. Because of the salting and slow cooking, the meat is tenderized and very tasty.
Remove thick pieces of fat from the meat. You may leave a thin layer. Mix together the salts and sugar and coat the meat evenly with the mixture. Because of the nitrites in the salt, don't let any persons or pets ingest the mixture.
Place the meat in a non-metal container (such as a Pyrex casserole dish), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours. Liquid will be drawn from the meat.
At the three-hour mark, start your charcoal fire. Soak 2 cups (or so) of wood chips in some water.
Wash off all the salt under running water and pat dry with paper towels.
Grind the whole spices together (I like to use an old, electric, blade coffee grinder) and sprinkle over all sides of the meat, pressing to adhere.
Place your smoking tray (or aluminum foil tray) on top of the charcoal and add 1/2 cup wet wood chips. Place the grill above that, not touching.
Place the meat on the grill, cover and smoke 1 1/2 hours, until the internal temperature is 150°F or above. Add more wet chips as needed to keep the smoke up.
The meat is now ready to eat or use in your cooking projects, such as pea soup, lentil stew, eat like breakfast ham or chop small and sprinkle on salads. You may wrap chunks in plastic and freeze for a few months, or refrigerate for two weeks.