HAM AND BACON
The word ham means pork, which comes from the hind leg of a hog. Hams may befresh, cured, or cured and smoked. The usual colour for cured ham is deep rose or pink.Fresh ham (which is not cured) has the pale pink, country hams and prosciutto (whichare dry cured) range from pink to mahogany colour.
Curing is the addition of salt, saltpetre and sometimes sugars andseasonings to pork for preservation, development of colour and flavour enhancement.
This process is used to make country hams and prosciutto. Fresh meat isrubbed with a dry-cure mixture of salt and other ingredients. Dry-cured hams are usuallyaged for six months but may be shortened according to ageing temperature.
Wet Curing or Brine Cure:
This is the most popular way of producing hams. It is a wetcure whereby fresh meat is injected with a curing solution before cooking.
Smoking and Smoke Flavouring:
After curing, some hams are smoked. Smoking is aprocess by which ham is hung in a smokehouse and allowed to absorb smoke fromsmouldering fires. This gives added flavour and colour to meat and slows thedevelopment of rancidity.
Ham is served with fresh figs or slices of melon or is chopped finely and addedto salads or cooked pasta. Alternatively, use the ham to wrap around meats prior to pan-frying or oven roasting, this not only adds flavour but also keeps the meatmoist. Dry cured ham can be served with cheese, bread and fruit for a simplelunch. Ham slices are perfect for making sandwiches as the large slices of hamcover sliced bread well. Ham can also be served on Italian bread - ciabatta or focaccia and topped with sliced tomatoes and mozzarella.
Commonly used hams:Aged Hams:
These are heavily cured, smoked hams that have been hung to age fromone to seven years. They are covered in a mould, which must be scraped and washedoff prior to eating.
The meat is soaked in brine and then smoked.
Raw/uncooked cut of meat from the hog's hind leg. It must be cooked prior to eating.
Derived from a French word "Gambe" for hind- leg of the pig or ham.
Italian ham. The meat is seasoned, salt-cured, and air-dried. It is notsmoked.
: Sweet tasting, mature Serrano ham is produced in the mountainousregions of Spain. It is not cooked, but coated in sea salt and stored until the salt isabsorbed. Its sweetness comes from the gentle curing and from the high temperaturesduring the last stages of maturation.