As I’ve probably mentioned before, one fun thing about belonging to a CSA is you get to try cuts of meat (or vegetables) that you might not have otherwise picked up at the grocery store. Part of our “Dig the Pig” share from Moonshine Meats is a large slab of fresh ham steak. In this case, “ham” refers to the hind leg of a pig, not a chunk of cured pork. The first time we cooked fresh ham, we tried to braise it – it was okay, but nothing to blog about. That ham steak turned out more-or-less like a gigantimus pork chop, but less flavorful. Aiming for more, we brined this month’s ham steak to turn it into something more like cured ham, but without the nitrates.
The addition of whole cloves and maple syrup to the brine infused the meat with a subtle sweetness – reminiscent of all those clove-studded baked hams you’ve eaten at Easter-time. As the ham steak roasted, we basted it with a mustard-cider glaze to add more flavor and to help give the ham a beautiful color. (The pink color of traditional ham comes from nitrates in the cure, so this ham is not pink.)
I roasted this in the oven, but it would be even better roasted or smoked on the grill! There’s always next month when the next CSA share comes in!
Brine Ingredients: (I had a 3-pound ham steak; adjust amounts accordingly if you use a much larger piece of meat)
- 1 fresh ham steak, uncured (brining time based on weight – you could do 2 pounds, or a whole ham)
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 8-10 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- several grindings of black pepper
Bring brine ingredients to a simmer; make sure the salt is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Place the ham steak in a large resealable bag. Cover with the brine; squeeze the air out of the bag, seal, and refrigerate. Keep in brine 24 hours for every 2 pounds of meat.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Remove the ham steak from the brine, rinse with cold water, and dry with paper towels. Place in a roasting pan on a rack. Season with ground pepper. Deeply score the fat around the outside of the steak every 1-inch or so, to prevent the roast from curling as it cooks.
Roast at 375F for 18-20 minutes per pound. During the last ~30 minutes of the roasting time, baste the roast with the mustard-cider glaze (recipe below). Flip the roast over, brush with glaze, and cook for 15 minutes. Flip the roast over again, brush with glaze, and continue to cook until the roast is done (internal temperature around 140F).
Allow roast to rest, loosely covered with foil, for at least 10 minutes before serving. Slice thinly across the grain to serve, and enjoy!
Mustard-Cider Glaze (amounts approximate):
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup apple cider (not apple cider vinegar)
- 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey
- pinch dried thyme
- kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
In a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together the glaze ingredients. Adjust amounts and seasoning, to taste. (Also good, whisk in a little of the pan drippings from the ham…yum!)
No music today, but a reading assignment! I picked up Allyson Reedy’s Breaking the Chain: How I Banned Chain Restaurants From My Diet And Went From Full To Fulfilled for my Kindle and absolutely loved it. Reedy’s triumph over bland, bad for you chain restaurant food is equal parts hilarious and thought provoking. From trying to eat local or her despair over a favorite breakfast place actually being a chain, she keep you amused while laying out just why you don’t want to eat at the Olive Garden ever again. Wonderful!