Let’s Talk Primals
You are probably asking yourself, “what is a primal?” It is simply a fancy term that meat cutters use to describe a large cut of meat that is initially separated from the carcass of an animal during processing. When processing pork for your freezer it is first broken down into four primal areas. All retail cuts are then taken from these parts.
Over the next four weeks we will explore the different cuts that come from each primal area. We will also be looking at the best way to cook these cuts.
Today we will start with the back leg. This is where we get our hams or ham steaks. Normally hams are cured, but can be left uncured to be cooked just like a roast.
All hams you purchase in the supermarket will be cured with nitrates. We do not cure our hams with nitrates. All our curing is done using old-fashioned brining or injection methods. Our brine is a mixture of water, sea salt, cane sugar, molasses or honey, and seasonings. We have also used a straight salt rub when we want a drier meat for packing in saddlebags or camping. When the hams are finished curing, we put them in the smokehouse where they are partially cooked and the flavors of the brine and smoke blend together to create the perfect eating experience.
Hams can left whole, but we normally debone the whole hams and then cut them into smaller, more manageable sizes depending on your needs. If you prefer to have bone-in hams that can be done also.
The hams will have a nice layer of fat that adds flavor to the meat and keeps it from drying out.
Our preferred way to cook a ham is to slow roast it. If you are cooking ham steaks they are very good done on the grill. When I am cooking a ham for a special occasion meal I like to make a glaze of orange juice and brown sugar. In the last hour of cooking I will baste the ham with the glaze every fifteen minutes. It is very important to remove the ham from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. This helps some of the juices re-absorb into the meat, making it juicy and tender.
When I have left over ham, I turn to quick and easy recipes to use it up. If my ham was bone-in I will toss the bone and any pan juices into the crockpot as I am slicing the ham. I let this cook on high overnight. Then I proceed to make Maple Baked Beans with the rich broth. Sometimes I will make fried rice with the extra ham, or add chopped ham and fried onions to scrambled eggs for breakfast.
I have included a recipe for you to enjoy at your family table.
4 Fabulous Pastured Pork Recipes
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Just a reminder, we are currently taking orders for custom, bulk orders of pork just in time for the start of barbeque season. To order you can hop on over to our Pasture/Forest Raised Pork page.
- 1 4 - 5 pound pastured ham
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp pepper, black
- 1/2 cup appricot preserves or spread
- 1/4 cup raw honey, melted
- 1/2 tsp cloves, ground
- 2 Tbsp mustard