Cooking Meat/curing game

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Question
Keith,  do I have to bone fresh elk hams before I salt cure and then smoke them?....tks....

Answer
Wayne:

I've not salt cured a piece of meat that large so I would suggest that you do cut it up into smaller pieces.  You don't want the meat to begin to sour before the salt can diffuse into the meat and halt bacterial action.

My warning to you, if you have never had true salt cured meat, it may be way more salty than you think it will be.

We salt and sugar cured ham in Virginia growing up and you have to soak the cut meat before you can use it in order to make it palatable, and even then the meat is still pretty salty.  My grandmother would cook it with vegetables without any other seasonings to draw out more of the salt. Sliced ham for frying had to be soaked for days to remove the salt, unless you liked it a tad salty.  There are tradeoffs for keeping meat from spoiling in the days before refrigeration.

Not like the "cured" ones that you get that need to be refrigerated.

You might just try brining it, or putting a salt-sugar rub on it after deboning it, then smoking it.  It will need to be refrigerated or frozen, but I think you'll be happier with the result.  

The quantities of salt we used on a big ham off of a hog (400lb hogs) give you some indication:

3 lbs of salt and 3 lbs of sugar, 1 lb of black pepper.  We'd put the hams unskinned in a washtub and cover them in the mixture making sure the bone ends were good and covered.  You'd move the hams around to prevent wet spots and to put fresh mixture on the bones ends and fresh cut ends.  They would stay in the mix for a week or more, then hang to air dry.  Keep cool.  

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Keith Patton

Expertise

I can answer questions regarding wildgame cookery ranging from venison, elk, buffalo, wild geese, duck, wild turtle, feral hog, javalena, wild boar, racoon, beaver, and woodchuck.

Experience

I am an avid hunter and chef. I have run a successful catering business, processing my own meat, curing hams and making wild game sausage.

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