Four Dry-Cured Deer Hams
When nature generously shares with us its bounty, it’s our responsibility to honor its sacrifice by elevating the meat to the utmost possible height. In the case of deer, it might take the form of creating a venison prosciutto or, for the sake of the sensibilities of our complicated times, dry-cured ham.

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Four Dry-Cured Deer Hams

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As the outside temperature rises, I’m speeding up the process of emptying my Curing Chamber that endures harsh Oklahoma summer in my garage. I still have few weeks before it truly becomes hot; yet, I also have plenty of meat in the Chamber. As Napoleon put it, “If you start to take Vienna, take Vienna!” Hence, my goal is to remove, document, vacuum-seal, and put to the rest in the darkness of refrigerator all meat by the end of June.

Listed here are four hind deer legs. Two of them started their journey on November 17th, two – on November 22nd. All were cured under vacuum until December 23rd and the second set was cold-smoked for two days over pecan. Each of them received a different set of spices.

Deer hams from 11\17/2017:

1)  Initial weight: 4.5kg. Weight at the end:2.2kg

Sea salt: 2.55%; cure #2: 0.25%; dried thai chili: 0.25%; brown sugar: 0.2%; cardamom: 0.03%; some Rebel Yell bourbon.

2)  Initial weight: 4kg: Weight at the end: 1.9kg

Sea salt: 2.55%; cure#2: 0.25%; 0.19% cayenne pepper; 0.03% cloves and the same amount of wasabi pepper; 0.1% onion powder; 2 cinnamon sticks; some Rebel Yell

Deer hams from 11\22/2017:

1)Initial weight: 3.7kg. Weight at the end:1.7kg.

Sea salt: 2.55%; cure#2: 0.25%;  garlic powder and BP : each 0.2%; whole cloves: 0.03%; cayenne pepper: 0.5%; some W L Weller’s bourbon.

2)Initial weight: 3.9kg. Weight at the end:2kg.

Sea salt: 2.55%; cure#2: 0.25%; juniper and BP – each 0.2%; cloves: 0.03%; poivre du Sichuan: 0.5%.

All hams were vacuum sealed and kept in the refrigerator with occasional flipping until December 23rd. Then – as stated above. The hams were taken from the Curing Chamber on Jun 8th. I’ve sliced ham #2 from Nov. 22nd lot. It was soft inside with the expected deep burgundy color. Spices are not really noticeable. Taste – typical of a deer ham\prosciutto: earthy, somewhat sweet, deep. As you can notice from the combination of spices on the rest of the hams, I was trying to add to this expected profile some sweet aromatic spiciness through different combinations. The further testing will reveal if I’ve succeeded. As for now, three hams will take fully deserved rest in under vacuum in the refrigerator.

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