Wild Wednesdays: Homemade Deer Country Ham
Welcome to another "Wild Wednesday"! This week, we'll be taking a break from the Duck Commander recipes for a look at curing your own deer ham. Brent and I have gotten really interested in various "homesteading" skills this past year, including processing our deer meat ourselves and using dehydration and salt-curing to preserve some of it as jerky or homemade ham. Both deer jerky and deer ham are delicious and are a nice change from the usual burger and steaks.
For our salt-cured deer hams, we took a smaller section of the entire ham (which starts with three distinct sections) to dedicate to making breakfast ham.
Next, we mixed Morton's Tender Quick curing salt with sugar to create a rub for the meat's surface. Tender Quick has gotten harder to find at local supermarkets, but is easily available on Amazon.com.
For our first batch, we used 1 Tbsp of Tender Quick per pound of deer meat, mixed with half that amount of sugar. For the next batch, we upped that to 2 Tbsp of Tender Quick per pound, again mixed with half that amount of sugar. The second batch tasted better and resembled Southern-style country ham (which is naturally quite salty).
Next, the ham needed to cure in the fridge for at least two weeks. For this step, it's important not to let the ham rest in its own juices. Solution: Skewer the ham using two metal grilling skewers running parallel through the ham, then add two more at a 90 degree angle. Set the ham in a medium-size mixing bowl, resting the skewers on the bowl's edge, so that the ham is suspended over the bowl, but not touching the bottom or sides. (Should have taken a picture of this step!).
After letting the ham cure for two weeks, it was ready to eat! The salt-cure coating had turned the ham a darker shade of red about halfway through the meat. We simply sliced it, pan-fried like country ham, and enjoyed. Yum!
Have you tried your hand at salt-curing or any other "do it yourself" food prep skills? How did it go?