It was on TV, and completely unrelated to cured pork, but for whatever reason the word made me think of cute little, individually sized hams. That’s all it took, and off I went trying to figure out how to make this thing happen. I knew I wanted a process that wouldn’t require the pink curing salts used in commercially produced hams, not because they are unhealthy, they’re not, but because it would be hard for some of you to find.
I’ve read things in the past about using celery’s naturally occurring nitrates to accomplish the same thing, so that’s what I used, and as you’ll hear me say several times in the video, I was thrilled with the results! While not exactly like a classic city ham, this was very close. The firm, moist texture was great, the salt level was spot on, and since we used loin instead of leg, there’s even a little less fat.
I’m afraid I won’t be able to help much with questions about how to do this with bigger or different cuts, as this was my first foray into home-cured ham, so if you are going to attempt this, please go to a good butcher to get the exact same size “chops” that I used. If you do, and follow these simple steps, I think you will have a holiday meal “to die for.” Sorry, but you didn’t expect me to do this entire post without one forced reference to the play, did you? Enjoy!
Ingredients for 4 Hamlets:
4 thick-cut (10-12 oz) center cut, boneless pork loin “chops”
For the brine:
1/2 cup *kosher salt plus 1 tablespoon
(*if using fine table salt, you’d only need barely 1/3 cup)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp finely ground black pepper
1 tsp allspice
1/2 ground cloves
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups boiling water to dissolve salt and sugar
3 celery stalks (about 2 cups chopped)
1/2 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
2 cups cold water to puree vegetables in blender, plus add enough cold water to make 2 quarts total volume of brine
Brine for 48 hours before roasting
For the glaze:
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
pinch of cayenne
whole cloves as needed
Roast at 325 degrees F. until an internal temp of 145 degrees F. is reached.