Thursday, January 24, 2008

THE ham - its been a long wait

There he is the whole ham. Notice how beautifully he's wrapped? Sort of ugly isn't he, but having waited a year for him he's beautiful to me and to my friend Andrew. The ham is the result of our adventure last year of joining in with French friends to butcher a whole pig. Well, actually it turned out to be two pigs as there were quite a few of us. (I've written up the whole adventure earlier in this blog.).
Because it was the first time for Andrew & I we sort of wimped out and decided that we would share half a pig between us. We had a great time during the whole process and both ended up with lots of several kinds of sausage and several kinds of pate. These were easy to divide up. For the ham we had to wait for it to cure. Local lore says that takes one year; who are we to argue. (The cure by the way is a simple salt cure not much else.) So the ham was finally ready a week or so ago & our friend Jacques brought it over for us. We now had the problem of how to divide the ham in two - equitably!
After considerable thought it was our friend Robert who came to our rescue. Rob is a retired farmer/ jockey/ butcher. He reckoned that he had a way to cut up the ham so the ended up in four pieces that could be equitably shared. This sounded better than sawing it down the middle which was the best the Andrew & I had come up with so we agreed to let Robert have a go.

Rob started by cutting off the hock.

As you can see the ham has a really nice color and is tender & moist.
Of course we had a taste. It is great! Wonderful flavor, not too salty. I think our French experts we were working with knew what they were doing. Its for sure we didn't.

Next Rob cut out what he called the 'chine'. It the smaller piece in the middle of the picture. Apparently this is a different set of muscles .

Now came the cut cut where Rob took out the leg bone and then cut the ham into two large pieces. These were the Topside and the Silver side. (if I got it right the Silver side is the inside of the pig's leg and the Topside is the outside of the leg.)

The piece in the center of the picture is the topside (or at least I think it is. We'd been drinking wine as we watched Rob so I wasn't paying as close attention to what he was doing as I should have.)

In any case it was now time to divide up as we had four pieces of ham plus a bone.

I asked Andrew to choose first as I'd dragooned him into the whole thing to begin with.

Here's what he chose. The chine & the Topside.

I got the silver side, the hock and the bone. We're both happy.

The whole thing has been a great experience. We'll probably do it again next month.

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