Written by Angela Samartano
ICC Social Media Manager
Christmas weekend has finally arrived, and the International Culinary Center lead chef-instructors are here to make sure you’re fully prepared for your home festivities. No matter which holiday your family celebrates, there’s never a wrong time to cook a ham from scratch. While not a culinary student myself, I was able to watch along as Chef Jeff Butler and Chef Pascal Beric demonstrated the process of creating a holiday ham from scratch to the Level 1 students in the Professional Culinary Arts with Farm-to-Table program. Needless to say, it was a multi-sensory experience – eyes were opened (to the rigorous multi-day process), mouths watered and noses were not disappointed at the smell and taste of the final product.
Charcuterie is a major portion of the Professional Culinary Arts program within Level 3. Cured meats are a staple in the culinary world, no matter where you are in the world and the International Culinary Center’s program truly prepares you for every and any meat-based dish you may desire.
Lead Chef-Instructor Jeff Butler, explains the importance of acquiring a professional education regarding proper techniques and execution of charcuterie.
Charcuterie is important because it differs greatly from regular cooking. It requires discipline, great attention to detail and patience. A dash extra of salt or the lack of an ingredient can result in an inedible product. In regular cooking, we can play with the seasoning and adjust until the moment we put it on the plate. In charcuterie, you might not know the results of a recipe until months later after the item has aged. Good charcuterie skills allow for the almost complete use of a pig from head to tail. It puts the chef in touch with ancient skills that go back thousands of years, history on a plate. You can’t learn it in a day and we put a lot of effort into the curriculum to give the student a strong foundation of charcuterie skills. Plus, you get to make hotdogs – and I love hotdogs.”
- 1- hind leg of pork with all bones removed except for the shank, approximately 10-12 lbs. 4.5-5.4 Kilo
- 5 Liter cold water
- 480 Grams of Kosher Salt
- 20 Grams of Pink Curing Salt #1
- 150 Grams of Honey
- 5 Grams Brine Phosphate (optional)
- Activa Meat Glue (optional)
- 5 gallon Bucket
- Brining needle
- Ham netting
- Hog rings
- Hog ring pliers
- Immersion circulator
- Hand immersion blender
- Powdered sugar shaker
Step by Step Process:
Step 1: Mix the water, salt, sugar, pink cure #1 and phosphate with the hand blender for approximately 2 minutes, until no solids are visible.
Step 2: Using the brine needle, gently pump the meat. Keep the meat in a large tub so as to not lose any leaking brine. Pump the brine in a grid pattern with a 1 inch spread. Do not try to poke needle through skin. Do try to pump around the shank. When finished pumping, submerge meat in remaining brine and the brine that has leaked off during pumping in the bucket.
Step 3: Let sit in refrigeration for 3 days. And then resume with the brine in the bucket and repeat step 2. This ensures that your meat is completely saturated with brine and the curing is complete.
Step 4: Let sit for 2 days. And remove from brine. Discard leftover brine. Pat meat dry with paper towel.
Step 5: Using Activa, in the powdered sugar shaker. Liberally dust the interior of the ham. This will keep the ham from having holes in the finished slices.
Step 6: Tie the Ham into the Ham netting.
Step 7: Twist the Ham inside the netting to tighten it upon itself and hog ring pliers to clamp the netting closed and to hold the tension. Use an extra hog ring to ensure it stays closed. Let the Ham sit in the refrigerator over night to set the Activa. You can also use butchers twine to truss the Ham, but take great care to keep it tight and trim loose ends to make sure they will not be caught in the immersion circulator.
Step 8: Set up the immersion circulator and set it to 145 F or 63 C. Submerge the ham in the water bath and cook for 14 hours. You can vacuum seal the Ham prior but you do not have to. The water bath will be discarded when finished.
Step 9: Remove Ham from the circulator. Take off netting , score the skin with a cross hatched pattern, be careful to not go into the flesh.
Step 10: Put ham in a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Begin to bake at 250 F. bake for 2 hours.
Step 11: Remove from oven and turn the temperature up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with the convection fan turned on if possible.
Step 12: Brush ham with vegetable oil and place in the 450 degrees Fahrenheit oven after fully preheated.
Step 13: When the ham is beautifully browned remove it from oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes and serve with the sauce of your choice.
Step 14: ENJOY!
To learn more about the various levels of ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts program and reserve your spot during our January 30 start date, CLICK HERE.