Work in Progress - Pork Loin to Quick (ish) Easter Ham (ish)

Discussion in 'Pork' started by jjlnyc, Mar 25, 2016.

  1. For Easter, I plan on magically transforming pork loin to smoked quick-cured ham.Normally we buy ready to eat ham (Maybe Smithfield, or Kirkland, or Zabar's homemade) but my diabetic brother in law lately insists that there is sugar in all of those (I think there isn't, except in the optional glaze packet) and that they are baaaad for him. [​IMG]

    SO - I bought a 10 lb boneless pork loin, cut it in two, and tonight put each half in a brine until tomorrow night. A seat-of-the-pants concoction of apple cider, water, kosher salt, bay leaves, allspice berries,peppercorns, garlic cloves, dried onion flakes, cut up clementine, and in one bag only, brown sugar.

    Below is what one looks like in the bag in the foil pan in the other foil pan, in the fridge.

    Tomorrow I will be dry-rubbing/quick-curing. Stay tuned [​IMG]


    Last edited: Mar 25, 2016
  2. smokinal

    smokinal Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    Are you going to use cure#1?

  3. Umm... actually, I have no idea what cure #1 is. In reality, I am just going to give it a heavy coating of salt and spices, wrap it tightly in saran, and keep it in the fridge for about 12 -14 hours.
  4. smokinal

    smokinal Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sounds like a plan!

    It's not going to taste like ham or Canadian bacon without using cure #1, but I'm sure it will be good.

    12-14 hours would not be enough time to cure it anyway, even with cure #1.

    Looking forward to seeing the final result!

    Good luck!

  5. You guys are dangerous! I was planning on stopping at Home Depot today to pick up the 40-buck iGrill mini thermometer to monitor my Easter Ham progress tomorrow... but having spent a bit o' time reading through this forum last night, I decided I just HAD TO GET the Maverick ET-733 (not the 50-bucks-including-shipping-on-Amazon 732, nooooo, the seven thirty THREE!). Seventy bucks plus tax later (free shipping, woohoo!) I am eagerly awaiting same day delivery to the local Amazon locker.

    Y'all just cost me an extra thirty bucks! (But $$ well spent I am sure. And they are even throwing in a pair of meat claws!)
  6. Hey Al,

    A couple months ago on a Scout camping trip, my fellow Scoutmaster cousin and I smoked a couple 3 lb loins in the propane equivalent of the MES analog. Dry rubbed for 1/2 hour with a jar of McCormick rub. They came out tasting very much like ham,(to us, anyway!)  though of course not as salty.

    Being the southerner you are, I am guessing "if it isn't bordering on salt-lick, it ain't HAM!" ? 


    I have been a smoker for a long time, but never a "cure-er" though one never knows what the Next Level might be :)
    About this Cure #1 - is it this stuff you are talking about?
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2016
  7. smokinal

    smokinal Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Yes that's cure#1, prague powder, Instacure #1, pink salt.

    There are a bunch of names, but they all contain 6.25% nitrite.

    That's how you make homemade bacon, with pork bellies & cure #1.

    Somehow I think this may be in your wheelhouse!

    Last edited: Mar 26, 2016
  9. Al, you may be right [​IMG]  
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    What you have going sounds good. With Ham it is the Sodium Nitrite in Cure #1 that after sitting in the mix or brine for a couple of weeks, gives the smoked meat the characteristic Ham flavor, Ham Pink Color all the way through and protects the meat from dangerous bacteria while you Cool Smoke, 170°F until the IT is 145°F. Without the Cure #1 you must Hot Smoke, 225°F+ and the result is Smoked Pork. Tasty but not Ham or one of the variants like Canadian Bacon ( cured loin ), Buck Board Bacon ( cured slabs of Butt ), or a Picnic Ham ( cured picnic shoulder, aka lower front leg )....JJ
  11. Truth be told, I will cede the term "Ham" - not because of my preparation though, but because of the cut:

    "Ham" in the United States must come from the hind leg to be labeled as such, and I am using loin. 

    BUT - pork does NOT necessarily have to be wet or dry-cured, nor does it need Cure #1 or #2 to be considered ham.

    It needs only to be preserved by one of several methods, including smoking....

    BUT - whether you say tomayto or tomahto, like you say Jimmy, it sounds good! I will keep you posted too on how it ends up tasting, and what it ends up tasting like. My father-in-law was a butcher for a while, his father and his brothers and his nephews and my brother in law run a chain of butcher and food stores, which started out as just pork stores when the patriarch came to the US from Italy. (Their sausage is even mentioned in one of the Godfather movies!)  I must say I am nervous what he will say about it. Stay tuned!

    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Ok. You are using the term very lightly. I would venture a guess that a family of Italian Butcher's would also agree that Salt on a piece of Pork does not a Proscuitto make. As far as my background, Dad was the product of more than 4 generations of Polish Butcher's, Grandpa having 3 stores and employing all 11 Aunts and Uncles. Dad was born in the house attached to the largest store, weighed on one of the shops Meat Scales and like his family worked there. Our families have both wielded a knife or two. [​IMG]  [​IMG]  How did it come out?...JJ
  13. More later on the results.

    But as for the terminology, Vince confirmed that it can't be called "Ham" unless it is from the hind leg, but that if it is from the hind leg, then it is a ham.

    Even if it is NOT cured, it is a "fresh ham" (which he has made for Easter several times over the years)

    The various types of processing, whether salting, wet-curing, smoking, or any combination thereof, determines the next level of "nomenclature", from Pink Ham (Prague powder?), to "Cooked Ham,"  - all the way to  Prosciutto di Parma. 

    On another note - I think Polish butchers are my next favorite after Italian. My grandfather's best friend Paulie (sound Italian, right?) was a Polish Butcher.

    Uncle Paulie had a (non-working) farmhouse out in the "wilds of NJ". Every Friday when I was in grammar school,  my grandparents would pick me up after school and take me out there for the weekend.

    My grandfather would do a lot of the groundskeeping, my grandmother, housekeeping and preparing side dishes for the near-weekly extended-family Sunday  picnic. 

    On Sunday, Uncle Paulie, Aunt Mitzi, and their family would show up, as would my parents, and loads of other friends, family, neighbors, etc. Anywhere from maybe a dozen or so, to scores of partyers. 

    Uncle Paulie would bring  the meats of the week - cold cuts, kielbasas, chops, whatever. 

    These picnics were awesome and legendary. (Before I was born, I understand a young Chubby Checker showed up one week and performed - not hired or anything, just heard about these "events" and wanted to join in cuz he was in the area!)

    There are several Polish butchers and delis in my neighborhood. My favorite one has so many types of kielbasa that I have not even tried them all yet!
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016
  14. And the results are in. 4 3/4 hours in the smoker, at temps that vacillated between 200 and 250, to reach 155F, then covered for about 1/2 hour to rest, while we ate our first course (Grandma Joi's home-made manicotti - she makes everything from scratch, from the sauce to the wrapping, to the filling - ok, she  buys the ricotta, but kicks it up a few notches)

    Taste and texture were pretty much what I had planned and hoped for. Salty, (but not too much) smokey (subtly so) juicy, tender, and porky. Porkier than ham, hammier than pork, probably because of all the salt in the brining and packing. But due to my lack of using Cure#1, no pink ,, and no deep-salt/nitrite layer of flavor.

    The bark was spot-on. My one surprise is that there was no discernible smoke ring... But favorable reviews all round!




    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016
  15. smokinal

    smokinal Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looks delicious!

    Great job!

  16. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Very nice looking Loin. Italian Butchers are my fav too. I would take a Prociutto de Parma, Sharp Provolone and Fryed Italian Long Hot Pepper Sandwich over a Kielbasa and Sauerkraut on Rye, any day!...[​IMG]...JJ

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