28 March, 2011

Porkalicious! Homemade smoked ham, Part One

Being married to a Polish man and having mostly Polish friends here in Ireland, you can guess there was going to be some sort of meat sooner or later.
Luckily for me, Poland is a country rich with flavourful, delicious meats! With that as a background, I knew these men wouldn't do me wrong.

A couple weeks ago, we split half of a pig between our two families. The pig was delivered to our friends' house freshly (and humanely) dead... still warm, actually. The men set to work! Almost every single bit of the pig was cut up and set aside to be used in some way. There was no waste, and this makes me very happy.

V, Pawel, and Jacek put the cut up hams, bacon, and other yummy bits into some homemade brine in a cleaned out beer keg and let it soak for two weeks, moving the meat around in the keg every so often. We have had unusually warm weather for the past two weeks here in Ireland - so we were concerned about the brine going bad. The men checked on it every day or two, but in the end it lasted to when it was supposed to, which was this weekend! Hooray!

On Friday evening, V emptied the keg of all the brine and did a quick rinse of everything inside.

The spices from the brine were a little difficult to remove with the hose... as V's fingers kept freezing. Apparently just because it's spring, doesn't mean everything is going to be warm... haha! Below, you can see all the meat set out in bowls and things to bring them inside.

V rinsed all of the spices off the meat, and got all the pieces ready for what would happen on Saturday!

Smoking! This is our homemade smoker. The meat hangs in the oil barrel and the fire is build under the metal on the ground there. The smoke travels up and out through the holes cut in the lid of the barrel.

V and Karina put all of our meat in these "socks" and tied them closed ready to be strung for hanging in the smoker.

It was quite a struggle because the "socks" are so skinny! But it was fun to watch them wrestle with it.

Here are some hams ready to be tied closed and strung!

The ends were tied with cotton twine and then stainless steel wire was strung through all the pieces so they could hang with enough space inside the smoker.

mmmm... meaty goodness.

This one was taken after they had been smoking for a few hours. Isn't the color beautiful?

Read the next post for what happened after we smoked the ham... including photos of the finished product!


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