Rum Maple Ham: A Pirate’s Christmas
Rum & Maple Ham; A Perfect Holiday Treat or for Anytime!
Few things sing in the celebrations like a perfect Holiday Ham!
If you’re thinking of making one from scratch, deliciousness can be had on the cheap and with a minimum effort. As always, the key is to start with quality. Here I started with a leg roast [hams often come from the front (so-called picnic hams) or rear leg (“true hams”) cuts], which can often be had from preferred procurers of porcine parts for a pittance! This was from an organically raised, pastured, Berkshire breed.
If you are doing a fresh ham, you can brine without curing salt overnight and then marinate. If you are doing a traditional ham follow your favorite curing recipe; I use the guidelines in Michael Rhulman’s excellent tome, Charcuterie (a must-have for any fan of cured meats).
For this ham, I created a flavor profile hearkening back to classic New England flavors. Rum, maple syrup, and a touch of the exotic in the spice blend of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg (AKA Pumpkin Spice) set the traditional mood. I also used pork from a Heritage Breed (organically raised and pastured).
These animals often require a longer time period to harvest and are often more difficult to raise. This is because they were often bred for specifics of flavor, not for the major criteria of industrial production which is rapid and massive growth. As such, they often carry a superior health profile (from their genetics) and when combined with how they are raised; they generally yield protein that from a nutritive perspective is head and shoulders superior to the usual mass production equivalent. How we raise food matters.
- 3-5 pound ham
- Ingredients as listed below for Brine and Marinade
Brine Ingredients (this will be adequate for a 3-5 pound piece of pork):
- 2 liters of water, ~ 1/2 gallon of water
- 180 grams, ~3/4 cup of kosher salt
- 100 grams, ~1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 TBS curing salt (InstaCure No. 1 pink salt)
- Additional flavorings as desired (I used a few rosemary and thyme sprigs, a handful of juniper berries, 2 Meyer lemons, and a few leaves of sage)
- 1/4 cup good quality rum, preferably dark
- 1/4 cup good quality maple syrup
- 2 TBS pumpkin spice
For the Brine: Bring the water to a boil, dissolve fully all the ingredients. As the mixture cools I added rosemary, thyme, juniper berries, cut Meyer lemons, and sage. I then let it rest, fully submerged for ~ 2 weeks. The ham was removed and rinsed.
For the Marinade, combine all the ingredients and then divide in half, reserving half the liquid. Allow the rinsed ham to marinate in one half of the marinade overnight. For the other half, reduce it in a small saucepan by approximately a third to half; until it has thickened.
Then slow smoke the ham at roughly 225 F until it reaches an internal temperature of around 190 F. When it had about an hour or so left, slather it with the glaze and let it finish smoking. When desired temperature is reached, pull it and allowed it to rest for several hours. If you are doing in the oven, cook it low and slow at 225 and follow the same directions. If you are looking for a crispy glazed texture, heat the broiler for several minutes to caramelize the glaze right before you remove it.