Black Ham V - Cooking and the Finished Ham

Continuing the story of the Black Ham, the previous post is here:
Black Ham - Part IV - Smoking

I cooked the ham on Friday, 10 days after it came out of the cure. I did it simply in my slow cooker in plain water at 80°C - the 'keep warm' setting on my cooker once it has come up to temperature. I changed the water after about 30 minutes to avoid it being salty, although with hindsight this wasn't necessary.

Black Ham

The ham was cooked until it reached an internal temperature of 75°C and then glazed with a mixture of brown sugar, French mustard and apricot jam and put into a hot oven for about 20 minutes.

Black Ham

So what of the end result? Well I was amazed by the weight loss, particularly given the small amount of skin that needed removing. The total loss was some 45% and amazingly, it actually lost weight during the brining, somewhat unusual to say the least.

The meat is drier that my normal hams, something that it has in common with the Emmetts Ham that was the starting point of this recipe. The meat is also very firm, probably due to the less than ideal smoking conditions and the combined length of smoking and drying period for, what is, a small piece of meat. I doubt that a larger piece of meat, even matured for a longer period of time, would have the same problem.

What of the taste? Well the glaze I used does absolutely nothing for it! The smoking is virtually undetectable, next time I'd either smoke it for a lot longer, or not bother at all. The outer crust of the meat, where it was unprotected by fat has very much a molasses taste with a hint of the beer, so it's obviously better done (as Emmetts do) with whole legs. That said, the rest of the meat is very nice, neither too salty nor too sweet, neither too spicy nor too bland.

The family's verdict was mixed; mum loved it, she's a real lover of drier styles of ham with good flavour, Dad was a bit non-committal, but came back for another slice, but Emma my daughter didn't like it at all.

What about next time? I'll be happy enough to stick with the same basic recipe; maybe I'll tinker with the molasses a little or replace the raw cane sugar with white granulated, or even up the spicing - maybe 10 - 20% more - I don't know, but fundamentally the recipe seems sound. What I do know is that I'll use a larger piece of meat of better quality than the cheap supermarket product I used for this - one with a good covering of fat and skin. I know I'd either smoke them for longer or in heavier smoke, or not at all; I'm not sure that it really needs the additional smoke flavour. All-in-all, given that this type of ham is not really my 'cup of tea' (I've made it 'cos mum loves this type) I'm pleased with the results.

The next part is:

Part VI - The Recipe and Calculator...

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