What are we without pigs? Not even properly humans…
Take the pork away, and the sun loses its brightness and wine its sweetness.
People whom we call — for the sake of convenience — the “ancient Chinese” new well this axiom of our pork-depended existence. For that reason 3000 years ago they selected Jia, the logogram for home as a depiction of a pig under a roof. The designation of “a place with a pig inside” is the same as “a place where people reside”: it’s represented by the identical hanzi character. And what epitomizes the symbiotic bond between a human and a pig better than a dry-cured ham? That’s the panicle of our – some would say, somewhat one-sided – relationship.
Taking my hat off to the traditions that gave us the range of products from prosciutto through jamon to pršut, I really see no need to perform the complicated ritual with box-salting and rinsing in the time when vacuum-sealing available. Hence, this ham went to the refrigerator under vacuum for 37 days with 3.5% sea salt, 0.25% cure #2, and rosemary extract. The ham came somewhat unwillingly donated by a mangalitsa from a farmer who raises them in free-range arrangements in North-Central Oklahoma, where plenty of nuts and acorns are available to pigs. Although the farmer did not pay anything to the poor pig, for some reason he charged me a fortune for what was left from the hog after her soul left to the Heaven of All Swines. I believe, few of our politicians by some means managed to get to the same designation, but that’s another topic…
Afterwards, the ham was washed, dried, rested for a day in cold, and sent to the Curing Chamber. The sugna – combination of rice flour with lard – was applied 3 months after the dry-curing begun to prevent over-drying. At the end, when sugna was removed and ham cleaned, the end weight was 6.3 kg. The journey begun with 8.5kg.
How can I describe the aroma and taste of the final product? I can’t.
On a prosaic note, I’ll only mention that 3.5% salt is a good proportion for a ham. Until I got to this line, I’ve not even thought if the ham was over or under-salted. Which means – the amount was right.