Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Accidental Ham

Earlier in December, the hams I cured were ready to smoke.  They were just too big for me to handle from a wheelchair, so I had to pass the baton to Herb.  After all, it's really a fun process, and I knew he would enjoy doing it.

First, he rinsed the hams well, especially in all the cavities.  Jeff had opened them along the long bone and encouraged me to pack salt in there to encourage an even cure.

Next, Herb patted the hams dry with paper towels.

This shows how the meat pulled back from the joint bone during the curing process, which took hams that were slightly over 15 lbs. down to 13 and a half.

Here's the other end of one of the hams.

Early in the afternoon, Herb set up the smoker, put chunks of hickory in the bottom, and--once the smoke was drifting out--put the hams in the smoker.  Based on the amount of time it took the bacon, I figured the hams needed several hours.  So we went about our business, leaving the hams to soak up the delicious hickory smoke.

. . .

Herb fed the animals before it got dark and left for a meeting.  He got home about 9 p.m. and suddenly exclaimed, "The hams!"

Accompanied by my wails, he rushed out to unplug the smoker and haul out the darkened carcasses of our once-beautiful hams.  We were sick at heart!  How could we have forgotten them?  Herb stuck the lumps of meat in the fridge, more out of reflex than anything else, and we went to bed.

The next day I suggested that since Jim and Monique wanted their ham cut up and frozen in stew-sized chunks, why didn't we go ahead and cut one up and see if we could salvage any?
So Herb got out a knife, and to our delight, there was a beautiful, pink ham cooked to perfection inside that charred hunk of meat!  Little bits that fell off tasted amazing.  We couldn't believe it!  When I (finally) checked on the internet to see how long the hams should have been smoked, we found that the  8 hours they spent in the smoker was exactly the right amount of time.

So on Christmas Day, our accidental ham will be the centerpiece of our table, and we will thank God for ALL His goodness this past year.  That's no accident!

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