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Suggestions for uncured ham steak?


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#1 tikidoc

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 06:43 AM

About a month ago, we purchased a whole, locally produced, pastured heritage breed pig. First, thanks to many on eGullet for suggestions on how to instruct the butcher. It was a big help. They didn't give us the head as requested ("we don't do that", said with a facial expression that made it clear that they thought I was out of my mind) but otherwise I think we pretty much got it how we wanted.

Although we love most things porky, nobody in the family is a fan of cured ham. Other cured pork products, yes, just not ham. This was a big pig with a big butt, so now we have a lot of cuts from the ham, and I would love some suggestions as to how best to deal with it. To make it manageable (did I mention this was a BIG pig?) it was frozen in 2-3" thick steaks weighing about 5 pounds each, bone in. Quite a few of them.

We tried curing some ourselves, and although we liked it more than commercially made ham, it still was not a huge hit. Made for some fantastic split pea soup, but that's a lot of effort to cure meat just to make soup.

I recently got a Sous Vide Magic, so I did a piece in that (uncured) and the flavor was good but it was a bit tough (can't remember exact settings and time, will take notes from here on out). It was not a marathon cook time though.

I have not found too much on internet searches, since it seems everyone loves cured ham and that is what you are expected to do with this cut.

So, more ideas?

Jess

Edited by tikidoc, 28 January 2012 - 06:44 AM.


#2 Chris Hennes

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 08:20 AM

I used most of mine to make sausage, actually: it makes a LOT of sausage, though! I never tried just cooking it as a whole muscle.

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#3 tikidoc

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 08:58 AM

Yup, we will definitely be making sausage, but we have a LOT of ham... Did I say this was a big pig? Live weight was in the neighborhood of 400#.

#4 Chris Hennes

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 12:32 PM

Wow, mine was only 250lb, that is big. Have you tried a low-and-slow method to try to break down the connective tissue? Braise? BBQ?

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#5 tikidoc

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 04:12 PM

Wow, mine was only 250lb, that is big. Have you tried a low-and-slow method to try to break down the connective tissue? Braise? BBQ?


Yea, I was a little worried it would be so big that it would be tough or affected by boar taint (although that is rare in pastured pigs) but everything we have tried so far has been pretty good, and definitely no boar taint.

I was wondering about using a low and slow method but there really does not appear to be much in the way of connective tissue - the steaks we have thawed so far (a total of two) look like just a couple of very large muscles. But they are obviously muscles that get a lot of use, so not the most tender meat around.

As far as what we have tried, we only have done a little cured ham and one piece in the sous vide (for a total of one big steak). I have a thawed piece in the fridge at the moment, wondering what to do with it. I might try the sous vide again but for a longer time to see if it gets tender. The last time I did it in the sous vide, I used just some salt and pepper and a little apple cider jelly (http://woodscidermil...CiderJelly.html - LOVE this stuff with pork), and the flavor was really, really good.

#6 Chris Hennes

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 04:19 PM

The connective tissue you need to worry about is the stuff holding the muscle fibers together (I forget what it's called and Modernist Cuisine is in the other room right now...). So going for a long-time sous vide or a braise-type technique is probably what's called for here. The nice thing about using SV is that you can figure out exactly what time/temp combination works best for your tastes. Maybe try treating it like you would brisket as a starting point.

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#7 tikidoc

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 05:22 PM

Don't know the culinary term for the connective tissue, the anatomic terms are endomysium and perimysium, depending if you are talking about the stuff around each individual fiber, or group of fibers. Fascia called epimysium surrounds complete muscles. Would be interested to hear what the culinary terms are.

I was thinking about trying a long sous vide bath, good to hear it makes sense to someone who knows more than me and actually owns MC. I'll give it a try.

#8 kayb

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 05:38 PM

I'd probably think about cutting it up in large-ish cubes (say 1 1/2 inch) and using those in a soup or stew or posole. (I still swear by Chris Amirault's mother-in-law's posole recipe, which about the best thing I ever tasted in my life; it's on here in the posole cookoff thread.) It would be good to cube and take the place of beef in chili. And tonight, I'm braising some pork in tamarind, ginger, garlic, onion and coriander, and it smells marvelous; can't wait to try it. That particular pork was pork shoulder, but ham steaks should work.

I'd think you could also sear the steaks and then simmer them in some kind of sauce until they got nice and tender, somewhat like you would a round steak.
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#9 Chris Hennes

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 05:39 PM

No culinary terms that I'm aware of: endomysium and perimysium are the terms I was looking for. Incidentally, Modernist Cuisine suggests 65°C for 24 hours for fresh pork shoulder or fresh ham.

Edited to correct: sorry, that should be 36 hours.

Edited by Chris Hennes, 29 January 2012 - 05:17 PM.

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#10 tikidoc

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Posted 28 January 2012 - 06:06 PM

Oooh, posole sounds good, I'll try that next. I just put it in the sous vide, thanks for the time and temp, Chris. I'll report back after we try it.

#11 tikidoc

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 03:27 PM

Quick update, we just tried some of the ham. Admittedly, we went only about 21 hours, but we were hungry... Flavor was very good, and overall, we were happy with it. It was much more tender/soft than the last batch but just a little bit dry. There was a LOT of liquid in the sous vide bag by the time we took it out (no leak, just lots of juice), and this is meat that has not been "enhanced" with added salt or liquids at all, it went from the pasture to the butcher to the freezer. Would dropping the temp a little help with a little more moisture retention?

#12 Chris Hennes

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 04:27 PM

Yes, definitely. Modernist mentions a couple other possible time/temp combinations, I only quoted to you the one they consider their favorite. But in general the lower the temp the less moisture the collagen sheaths (the endomysium and perimysium) are going to squeeze out of the muscles before they are broken down.

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#13 tikidoc

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 04:43 PM

So if I was to drop the temp say 3C, would I then have to increase the time? If so, a lot or a little?

#14 Chris Hennes

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 05:16 PM

Modernist Cuisine suggests 60°C for 72h for a "tender, yielding" texture (what you were supposed to get at 65°C/36h was "tender, flaky").

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#15 tikidoc

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 05:24 PM

Thanks, Chris!

Oops, didn't see the edit for 36 hours, so may need to try again, ours was more like 22. Or maybe something in between, like 62.5C for 48 hours.

I think the next sous vide experiment will be beef though, I have a bunch of roasts in the freezer from our last steer. We burned through the burger and lots of steaks but roasts tend to linger. We also just bred our Angus cow to a Wagyu, so I'm hoping to be reporting on American Kobe in the sous vide in a couple of years. :biggrin:

#16 jmolinari

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Posted 30 January 2012 - 08:08 AM

You could use it to make vietnamese caramel pork and eggs.
Just a quick search:

http://www.pigpigsco...nd-eggs-in.html

http://www.theraveno...k-and-eggs.html

#17 abadoozy

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 07:13 AM

Any updates on this? I, too, ended up with several 4-5# chunks of fresh ham from the half pig I bought this year. From what I gather, it's more like loin than shoulder - lean, not fatty.

 

I took one out and am thawing it now, not sure what I'm going to do with it. Probably not sous-vide because I want to have it tonight, but would like to know if anyone got the sous-vide version to work because I might try it in the future.

 

Otherwise, I'm thinking of cooking it more like a loin, or even doing a bastardized cassoulet (cut it into chunks, cook with beans and maybe some sausage.)

 

Any other suggestions? Like the OP's cut, it's about 3" thick, 4# total, I don't think it has a bone but it's still frozen solid so I can't really tell.



#18 jmolinari

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 07:19 AM

Vietnamese pork in coconut water (thit heo kho nuoc dua).



#19 OliverB

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 09:44 AM

I'd try some low and slow on the bbq/smoker and I'd grind some for sausage like Chris mentions above. If you don't have a grinder, chop it finely or you can also use a food processor. Just don't create a mush :-)

Mix 50/50 with ground beef for nice hamburgers, bolognese sauce, etc.
 


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#20 abadoozy

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:32 PM

All good ideas, though the BBQ/smoker is under 2' of snow (will it ever end?) and I currently have pounds and pounds of scrap waiting to be made into sausage or burger. I'm looking for things to do with the whole roast, or stews/soups.

 

I wanted to get it cooking, so for now, I cut half of what I thawed into cubes, browned 'em, and threw 'em in the sous-vider at 145 to finish off. I want to use it with beans, but was worried it would dry out if I cooked it for too long, so that was the solution.

 

I have pintos and bacon and garlic cooking up right now. Not sure what I'm going to do with it all, other than make something with the pork chunks and the beans. I'm leaning towards something Mexican-ish since the only dried beans I had in the house were pintos. Had they been white beans, I'd be going for something cassoulet-ish.I

 

I'll let everyone know how it turned out, and would still very much be interested in other people's takes on this not-very-common cut.



#21 Steve Irby

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 06:23 PM

I've used recipes from the New York Times International Cookbook by Craig Claiborne for paprika pork which is a pork cutlet and also Hungarian goulash.  Both old school favorites with pork cutlets fried in butter a favorite.   I used to hate brined ham steaks because they were to "hammy" but have changed my mind since using an 8% brine solution with  fresh grapefrui,t  orange, lemon, lime juices and fresh ground chinese five spice.  Leave in the brine for about 30 minutes to an hour depending on thickness them pan fry.



#22 abadoozy

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 05:28 AM

Update: Wednesday's pork ended up being a pork/bean/chipotle stew. I had some smokey chicken stock (which is what you get when you make stock out of smoked chicken carcassess that you got from your friend's BBQ restaurant) I used in it, and it turned out pretty good. The pork itself, though, was tough. I only sous-vided it for 4-5 hours, so I wasn't surprised. Good flavor, and I chopped it up small enough that the toughness wasn't an issue.

 

I took the second half of the chunk I had thawed - about 1 3/4 pounds - and stuck it in the sous-vider at 149. We'll probably have it tonight, after it's been in for somewhere between 32-36 hours. Crossing my fingers that it comes out at least reasonable tender, because I have 2 or 3 more of these cuts in the freezer.



#23 judiu

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 07:53 PM

Update: Wednesday's pork ended up being a pork/bean/chipotle stew. I had some smokey chicken stock (which is what you get when you make stock out of smoked chicken carcassess that you got from your friend's BBQ restaurant) I used in it, and it turned out pretty good. The pork itself, though, was tough. I only sous-vided it for 4-5 hours, so I wasn't surprised. Good flavor, and I chopped it up small enough that the toughness wasn't an issue.
 
I took the second half of the chunk I had thawed - about 1 3/4 pounds - and stuck it in the sous-vider at 149. We'll probably have it tonight, after it's been in for somewhere between 32-36 hours. Crossing my fingers that it comes out at least reasonable tender, because I have 2 or 3 more of these cuts in the freezer.


If the sous vide doesn 't work out, you can always braise it with Barvarian kraut, with caraway seeds canned in it; add sliced onions and a fruity white wine. Yummy with mashed potatoes!
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#24 abadoozy

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 05:17 AM

After somewhere between 33 & 34 hours in the sous-vide at 149, it was heavenly. Incredibly tender & flavorful. When sliced thin it was almost buttery. This was an odd-shaped chunk a little less than 2#, pretty thick at one end but thin on the other.

 

I'll probably do the rest of them sous-vide, playing a bit with the seasoning. For this first experiment I went pretty basic - salt/pepper/a little garlic.

 

judiu: I do a similar dish with kielbasa. Never though of trying it with something other than sausage. I'll keep that in mind! I actually have a bunch of homemade sauerkraut in the freezer that I need to use up.