Well folks, this stuff has been hanging a while now. It seems to have done really quite well. It even survived the great International disaster of 2010 – “the humidifier is out of water for 3 days catastrophe” which I am sure you read about in a variety of international newspapers…
About two months ago I broke down a lamb leg in to three boneless pieces, and salted them along with various herbs. Becky came over and we rolled and tied each piece up much like you do a pancetta. These were considerably harder to tie than a pancetta however given a rather uneven shape. They were then left to hang in my curing chamber, where they sat for a month, getting moldy and drying out. Because of the international disaster mentioned above, they didn’t cure as evenly as first hoped, and in fact I think one is maybe for the trash, however two came out really pretty darn well.
When rolling something like this you have to be really bloody careful to make sure you have absolutely no air gaps inside the meat, otherwise nasty stuff can grow in there. For the most part these did pretty good for that. You also need to maintain a good humidity, and some airflow. If humidity is down, then the outside crusts up, preventing the inside from drying out. This happened for a few days over Christmas, when I didn’t check on the chamber, and nearly ruined the whole batch. Teach me to drink so much over XMAS.
So with technicalities out of the way, lets get straight to taste. In a phrase – “salty lamb goodness”. Almost too salty. I guess I could have taken it out of the salt cure a little earlier. But boy, what a flavor. This is one that you have to like lamb for, because paint me pink and call me Shirley, this has a lot of lamb to it. Thankfully that is no problem here. This really does make a great addition to a charcuterie plate, and certainly offers up something unusual. The rosemary and juniper that I threw in to the mix really are lost by the lamb flavor, but frankly that isn’t a bad thing given the really high quality of the lamb I got from Lava Lake Ranch.
Out of interest.. If you need to fix up salume that has a wee bit of case hardening.. Vac pac it and bung it in the fridge for a couple of days and the moisture level in the meat evens out so you get good texture across the whole item, rather than dry exterior, soft interior. I doubt this will fix extreme case hardening that would cause a product to be trashed, but it will make the texture more pleasing for some items.
I reckon next time I will cure a lamb leg whole bone in, and see how that comes out.
Here is the recipe again:
Home cured lamb prosciutto recipe:
Note: no weights are given because you will have a different weight of meat to me – everything is a percentage of the meat weight, after trimming. For example – say the meat weighs 1226g and we want to find out the amount of salt we need in grams – 1126/100 x 3.8 = 46g
1 half leg of lamb
kosher salt: 3.8%
freshly ground black pepper: 1.4%
freshly chopped rosemary: 1%
cure #2: 0.25%
crushed juniper berry: 0.4%
If the leg is bone-in you need to remove the bone. Run your fingers over the meat to work out the direction of the bone. Cut along the line of the bone, where it feels closest to the surface of the meat. Open the meat up with your fingers, and make another cut in to the opening, just to one side of the bone. Keep going all the way round till you trim the bone out.
Trim away anything that doesn’t look too tasty – large pieces of silver skin, large pieces of fat and any glands you see can all go in the trash. If some of the large muscle groups are only held together by a thin piece of silverskin or fat, trim them into separate pieces.
Weigh all the meat.
Mix up your cure ingredients, based on the weight of the meat.
Rub the cure ingredients into the meat, all over. I find this easiest to do in a large zip lock bag – that way you don’t loose any of the cure on the counter top.
Seal up the bag, and bung it in the fridge for 15 days or so.
Rinse off the cure ingredients, and pat dry with paper towels. Let the meat sit on a rack at room temp for 30 minutes to an hour.
If the leg is in separate pieces, deal with each piece separately. Roll the meat into a very tight tube, making sure you have no air gaps in the middle of the meat. Tie this extremely tightly. I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure there are no air voids inside the roll, and it is tied tightly. Air pockets will breed bacteria, and spoil the meat.
For information on how to tie up a whole muscle like this – you can watch this video I took of me tying up the recent lonzino. Exactly the same process!
Hang at 50F and about 75% rH for two months, or until the meat feels firm throughout.