Which has got me thinking about the highlights of the old pig.... so before I pare our final delicious slivers of air dried ham here’s a snapshot.
Six months ago I was faced with 'pig' laid out before me on the kitchen table, head, shoulders, loin, legs, trotters, everything, the possibilities were endless… sausages, bacon, chorizo, brawn, ham...
Dealing with a pig requires a ton of salt, a sharp knife, an uncomfortably chilly working environment and for hams and chorizo, a frustrating wait of several months.
I found the whole process definitely lacks the finger-lickin’ bliss that goes hand in glove with an afternoon cocooned in a warm kitchen whipping up sticky cakes. But frankly I’d swap a constant supply of air dried ham for an iced bun any day.
I simply followed Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s guidance and it couldn’t have been easier.
Very approximately... debone a hind leg, leaving just the knuckle protruding- easier than than you think with a really sharp knife. Rub inside and out with salt then resurrect your needlework skills with a nice bit of blanket stitch to sow up the joint. (Sadly not as photogenic as an iced bun!)
Completely cover the ham in a box of salt, weight the lid and leave in a cool place for a couple of weeks to cure.
Wash and dry the ham, rub all over with vinegar then wrap tightly in muslin.
Hang in a cool, well ventilated place for a few months until it is firm but not rock hard. Mine swung from the garage rafters, (encased in chicken wire as a deterrent to vermin and hungry cats and only moderately impeding access to the bicycles, ouch).
The only mistake I made was to do one leg not two.... but I can rectify that this year!
P.S. If you're wondering what happened to that box full of salt, it makes a very good weedkiller, more on that later.