Despite all of my stories about various meat projects, this is a blog about “Herschel”, a pig leg that will be my first prosciutto when it grows up.
This week was a milestone. We moved from the “drying” stage to the “aging” stage in the development of the ham. After 30 days of refrigerated salting, and 90 days of drying (where more than 35% of the original “green weight” was lost), Herschel is now settling in for the lengthy 12-month aging stage. The salt percentage, water activity, and acidity of this leg are all at a point where it would be safe to eat the meat today. And frankly, it would probably be really awesome. But the aging step is supposed to allow time for the meat to mellow and soften and get exposed to the magic that makes prosciutto so mind-blowingly tasty.
On this 120th day of production, I mixed up a bowl of rendered lard, black pepper, and semolina flour, and spread it over the lean exposed muscle. In theory, this should help contain the remaining moisture from escaping the leg muscle over the next year.
Below is the leg before applying any lard.
And here’s a shot of the freshly larded lean muscle areas. I mixed semolina with black pepper and lard in hopes of preventing the fat from dripping. The temperature in the curing room should be cool enough to keep the fat solid. But the semolina will give the layer of lard an extra bit of structure and resistance to melting. It is still greasy lard….just with a bit of fortification for the upcoming 12 month journey (of hanging in a closet).
Finally, Herschel and a fresh coat of lard are hung in the curing room.
I’m willing to wait for a full year before cutting into this. There is plenty of other curing to do and meat-science to learn while we wait.
- 30 of 30 salting days complete
- 90 of 90 drying days complete
- 2 of 365 aging days complete