Saturday, June 5, 2010

Prosciutto, part 1

This is going to be a bit of a saga. Prosciutto takes a good many months to make.

We start with the nearly 10kg leg of pork I got from the supermarket the other day when it was on special for $6.99/kg. The nice butcher there removed the remnant of hip-bone (aitch-bone in butcher-speak) for me, leaving just the ball at the top of the femur visible:

I trimmed the top of the leg to a nice rounded shape, removing a bit over 1 kg of meat, which I saved to use for a fermented sausage.

The proto-prosciutto went into my deepest roasting dish and got covered in coarse sea-salt, paying particular attention to the bits around each end of the femur and any cuts or holes …

… then the whole thing was inserted in a big plastic bag, taken to the coldest room in the house (it is winter, and it wouldn't fit in the fridge) and another roasting dish, containing 5kg of weights was placed on top:

That coldest room is the spare bathroom, in case you were wondering. It's the only room in the house that gets no sun, and I don't use it unless there are visitors.

For the next few weeks I need to check the leg daily, re-salting bits where the salt has dissolved, and draining off the fluid which is drawn from the meat by the salt. The original set-up, with the roasting dish in the plastic bag, turned out to be a bit of a pain in the arse to check and drain. The leg didn't really fit, and bits of salt got spread everywhere when I removed the bag, so I put on my thinking cap and came up with a better (I hope) idea.

The leg is now in my newly scoured laundry tub, with the plastic bag merely acting as a cover to keep dust, cat hair, and whatever else from settling on it. When I want to drain it I just lift the leg by the ankle, scoop any salt out of the way and pull the plug from the plughole. There's a lot more space in which to manoeuvre when applying more salt too. The laundry is not exactly a room, it's a sort of large cupboard off the kitchen, and it's kept cool by the constant draught of wintry air that gets in via the clothes-dryer vent.

I'll give a progress report when there's anything interesting to say -hopefully it won't be that the whole thing turned into a rotten mess and had to be discarded.

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