BBQ132/17 – Home Cured Pannage Gamon:
Part of my Pannage Pork delivery from Stansted Farm Shop was a leg on the bone. With Christmas approaching and a lot of bacon curing and smoking happening I thought about curing the leg for our usual Christmas Eve dish of Gammon with smoked Mac and Cheese. Home Cured Pannage Gammon sounded good to me!
This was last years Gammon cook:
I wrote a fair bit about Pannage Pork in a previous post:
A few years ago I saw this article on Pannage Pork. A practice dating back to medieval times, Pannage kicks off in the new forest during September and usually lasts for 60 days. When the acorns fall they are dangerous to horses and cows as they can get poisoned so the ancient right of “Common of Mast” allows farmers to release their pigs into the new forest to feast on the acorns, clearing them from the ground to avoid the horses and cows poisoning themselves. The current cost per pig is just £4 per month but the number of pigs released each year is only around 600 and demand for the meat is outstripping supply. Iberico Pork is world famous and the animals are fed on acorns in a similar fashion, pannage pork is the UK equivalent of Iberico Pork. Pannage Pork is said to have a slightly nutty taste, slightly drier and darker meat with a stronger pork taste.
To cure the meat I followed this method by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. This is the pork leg at the start of the process.
The brine was made with: Salt, apple juice, cider, water, demerara sugar, muscavado sugar, treacle, juniper berries, black peppercorns, bay leaves and cloves. This mix was brought to the boil in a massive pan then left to cool. I didn’t have a tub big enough to hold the brine and meat so used a cool box!e
The meat sat in there for 5 days then I took it out, rinsed it and patted it dry – what a colour!
The meat was left on a rack in the fridge for a couple of days to dry out and was then cold smoked over Apple wood for 36 hours (3 x 12) before resting in the fridge on the rack again for 5 days.
On the day of the cook we reverted to Nigella’s recipe and boiled the meat in ginger ale topped up with water. The recipe says to cook it for 3.5 hours but we have found that too long so give it 45 minutes (the joint is much smaller for a start). Whilst it was in the pan I made the glaze with ginger preserve, English mustard, ground cloves and dark brown sugar. When the meat came out the pan the rind was sliced off.
I fired up a whole chimney of Oxford Charcoal Apple charcoal and poured it into the grill creating 2 zones for cooking. I added oak and apple chunks to smoke the wood – Oak as the pigs had been eating acorns and apple to match the charcoal.
The glaze was brushed over the meat and I put the meat to cook on the indirect heat zone with the bone end facing away from the heat so the fat would melt and to protect that end of the joint a bit. I was planning on cooking it for around 30 minutes on the grill so after 15 minutes I applied more of the baste. The colour of the meat was looking fantastic!
After 35 minutes the meat was reading 65c internal so I took it off to rest.
It was Christmas Eve, I was out in the hut with Christmas tunes on, the lights on and a couple of whiskies!
Time to Eat:
The moment of truth. Had I managed to cure the meat properly, was it juicy or was it dry?! I sliced an end to check – very, very juicy! Not very pink but I hadn’t added saltpetre to the cure so didn’t expect the usual gammon colour. I was amazed with how juicy the meat was though, it was running down the meat!
Served up with Smoked Mac and Cheese – Awesome!
It was pretty cool curing a gammon for the first time and the meat tasted great, really juicy with a nice hint of smoke. This is one of my favourite meals and the Mac n Cheese goes so well with the gammon. I can’t imagine Christmas Eve without this meal now! I wouldn’t change a lot for next time, maybe just add saltpetre to the cure to get the meat pinker. It was odd eating gammon that wasn’t pink even though it tasted like gammon!
|Oxford Charcoal Apple
|Smokewood Shack Apple and Oak
|35m plus 15m rest
|1: Add saltpetre to the cure