adfree, Charcuterie

Lamb prosciutto is done!

January 13, 2011

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%

sugar: 3%

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.

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  • Mosaica January 13, 2011 at 6:17 am

    Your lamb prosciutto looks scrumptious! I’m going to need to try this as soon as a I have a curing chamber rather than my current curing, ah.. `environment.’ My makeshift environment uses old garden crates and a wet towel, and it is a bit dodgy, but it’s been good enough to bring a lovely guanciale and, just today –duck prosciutto into being.

    Also, thanks for your post on making mustard. I made three Dijon-style mustards (green peppercorn, sun-dried tomato, and violette) and your Calvados one, and gave sets of four to my dearest friends & family. It’s fantastic! In fact, today I used the Calvados one to make a honey-mustard sauce for some gravad lax open-faced smørbrød sandwiches I made for dinner. Yum!

    Cheers 🙂

  • Alex January 13, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Utterly wondrous. I cannot wait to try that. Is it almost muttony in its lambiness?

    • mattwright January 13, 2011 at 5:52 pm

      Alex – it almost muttony, but a little fresher I think. Almost like a very rich clean reduced lamb stock in a way.

  • Alan January 13, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Beautiful stuff Matt.

    Currently have some small test salamini in our curing chamber. Still refining the air flow but it sits at 52F at 71 RH so all should be fine. Let ya know in 3 weeks. I am trying a moose loin starting next week. Moozino? Can’t wait to see how it goes. Great stuff as usual…..Alan

  • Kimberley January 13, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I am so impressed by this!

  • Arunah January 14, 2011 at 1:50 am

    In order to kill bacteria, wouldn’t it be a good idea to rinse off the cure ingredients with brandy or any other strong alcohol ? This is common practice for cured ham which doesn’t have to be cooked.

    By the way, how does one suscribe by e-mail ? I’d love to !

  • len January 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    I wonder about the cure #2. Is it nitrit based? How was the meat cured before nitrits? They scare me a bit if you think about all the risks (proven or feared) they imply.

    • mattwright January 14, 2011 at 6:41 pm

      len – cure2 has both nitrate and nitrite in it. I understand your concerns with nitrate, I had them too when I first started curing. From all the research I have done (which is frankly a lot) there is nothing to be concerned about. You would eat more nitrate in ONE dinner of which you ate some spinach and potato than you would eating a whole salami in one sitting (which is impossible).

      For some recipes I consider it critical. Botulism isn’t something I want to get anytime soon, and nitrite is the only protection we have against it. Recent studies have also shown that nitrite might actually be good for heart health too. You should read my post on nitrate/nitrites for more information:

  • len January 15, 2011 at 11:05 am

    matt: thank you.

  • Janis January 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I have a entire lamb in my freezer and now my thoughts are racing and my palms sweaty. I think I know what I Have to do….Thanks.

  • Todd January 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Great Work.. I’ve done two lamb proscuittos ( bone in ) in the past year and have been amazed at how easy, and delicious they turn out.

    Keep up the great work.


  • Bren February 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    I’m impressed by this, too! I loooove lamb and making ur own sausage is just entirely too sexy and fantastic! I’m bookmarking this.