Ham is a delicious and versatile meat that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. From sandwiches to holiday dinners, a good ham can be the centerpiece of any meal.
But did you know that you can cure your own ham at home using Morton Tender Quick? This fast-acting curing salt contains everything you need to transform a pork leg roast into a flavorful, homemade ham in just a few days.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps of curing your own ham using Morton Tender Quick, so you can enjoy the best ham you’ve ever tasted right in your own kitchen.
So grab your apron and let’s get started!
How To Cure A Ham With Morton Tender Quick?
Step 1: Prepare the Pork Leg Roast
Start by selecting a fresh pork leg roast that has been skinned and trimmed of most fat, but leave a layer for flavor. The roast will likely weigh between 15-20 pounds.
Step 2: Mix the Curing Brine
To make the curing brine, mix water, salt or Morton’s Tender Quick (at 3% of the project weight), sugar (light or dark brown recommended, at 2% of project weight), and .05 oz of ‘pink salt’ per pound of project weight (use only in conjunction with straight coarse sea or kosher salt. Omit if using Tender Quick!) in a large stock pot. Add pickling spice, Dizzy Pig seasoning, and garlic to infuse the brine with aromatic flavors and dissolve salt and sugar. Bring to a hard boil for 10-12 minutes.
Step 3: Cool the Curing Brine
Cool the curing brine in a non-reactive curing vessel (food grade pail or cooler works well for this larger project) until it reaches a temperature of 36-38°F.
Step 4: Inject the Brine
Using a meat injector/syringe, pump up to 4 cups of brine into the pork leg roast, being sure to reach areas close to the bone. This ensures complete and even curing of the ham ‘right to the bone’.
Step 5: Cure the Ham
Immerse the injected pork leg roast into the curing vessel and refrigerate for 8-10 days.
Step 6: Smoke the Ham
After curing, hot smoke the ham until its internal temperature reaches approximately 135°F. At this point, begin to baste with glaze every 15 minutes until internal temp rises to 145-150°F.
Step 7: Enjoy Your Homemade Ham
Once your ham is fully cooked, let it rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving. You’ll be amazed at how delicious and flavorful your homemade ham is!
What Is Morton Tender Quick?
Morton Tender Quick is a fast-cure mix that allows you to cure meat, poultry, or game right in your own kitchen. It is a blend of salt, sugar, and other meat curing ingredients formulated for a fast cure action, improved flavor, and development of color. Morton Tender Quick contains salt, which is the main preserving agent; sugar, both sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, curing agents that also contribute to the development of color and flavor; and propylene glycol to keep the mixture uniform. It is important to note that Morton Tender Quick is NOT a meat tenderizer. This curing salt is designed to be used at the rate specified in the formulation or recipe. It should not be used at higher levels as results will be inconsistent, cured meats will be too salty, and the finished products may be unsatisfactory. Curing salts should be used only in meat, poultry, game, salmon, shad, and sablefish. Curing salts cannot be substituted for regular salt in other food recipes. Always keep meat refrigerated (36° to 40°F) while curing. It is not recommended for use with pork belly or bacon due to the differing fat content of individual cuts which may vary significantly in curing time.
Choosing The Right Pork Leg Roast For Curing
When selecting a pork leg roast for curing, it’s important to choose a fresh cut that has been skinned and trimmed of most fat, but leave a layer for flavor. The roast should weigh between 15-20 pounds. Look for a roast that has a good amount of meat on it and is not too fatty. It’s also important to make sure the pork leg roast is of high quality and has been handled properly to avoid any contamination. When in doubt, ask your butcher for recommendations or assistance in selecting the right cut of meat for your curing project. By choosing the right pork leg roast, you can ensure that your homemade ham will turn out delicious and flavorful.
Preparing The Curing Mixture
To prepare the curing mixture for your ham, start by mixing water, salt or Morton’s Tender Quick, sugar, and pink salt (if not using Tender Quick) in a large stock pot. Add pickling spice, Dizzy Pig seasoning, and garlic to infuse the brine with aromatic flavors and dissolve salt and sugar. Bring the mixture to a hard boil for 10-12 minutes.
After boiling, cool the curing brine in a non-reactive curing vessel until it reaches a temperature of 36-38°F. Once cooled, use a meat injector/syringe to pump up to 4 cups of brine into the pork leg roast, being sure to reach areas close to the bone. This ensures complete and even curing of the ham ‘right to the bone’.
After injecting the brine, immerse the pork leg roast into the curing vessel and refrigerate for 8-10 days. Once cured, hot smoke the ham until its internal temperature reaches approximately 135°F. At this point, begin to baste with glaze every 15 minutes until internal temp rises to 145-150°F.
Once fully cooked, let your ham rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving. Enjoy your delicious homemade ham!
Applying The Curing Mixture To The Pork Leg Roast
Now that you have prepared your pork leg roast, it’s time to apply the curing mixture. Begin by rubbing the mixture evenly over the entire surface of the pork leg roast. Make sure to cover every inch of the roast with the mixture.
Next, wrap the pork leg roast in cheesecloth or plastic wrap so that it stays covered while curing. This will help to prevent any moisture loss during the curing process.
Fill your container with cold water to roughly halfway and put the calibrated temperature probe in the water to monitor the temperature. It is important not to let the water go above 40 degrees Fahrenheit during this process.
Soak the wrapped pork leg roast in the tap water for roughly eight hours, making sure to spin it occasionally. This ensures that each side of the pork leg roast is completely submerged in the water.
While it might seem counterproductive, soaking helps draw out moisture from the pork leg roast so that it will hold onto more of its natural juices during cooking.
After soaking, remove the pork leg roast from the water and rinse it thoroughly with cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels and proceed with smoking according to Step 6 above.
By following these steps, you’ll be able to create a delicious homemade ham using Morton Tender Quick that will impress your family and friends.
Refrigerating The Pork Leg Roast During The Curing Process
During the curing process, it is essential to refrigerate the pork leg roast to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. After injecting the brine into the pork leg roast, immerse it in the curing vessel and place it in the refrigerator. Make sure that the pork leg roast is completely submerged in the curing brine and that the temperature of the refrigerator is between 36-38°F.
It is recommended to refrigerate the pork leg roast for 8-10 days, depending on its size. During this time, make sure to check on the ham regularly and adjust its position in the curing vessel if necessary. Also, ensure that the temperature of the refrigerator remains constant throughout the curing process.
Refrigerating the pork leg roast during the curing process is crucial to ensure that it is safe to eat and has a delicious flavor. Once you have successfully cured your ham, you can proceed with smoking and cooking it according to your preference.
Checking The Progress Of The Curing Process
Checking the progress of the curing process is an important step in ensuring that your ham turns out perfectly. During the curing process, the brine solution penetrates the meat, breaking down proteins and creating a unique flavor. Here are some tips for checking the progress of your curing process:
1. Check the color: After a few days of curing, the meat should start to turn a slightly darker color. This is a sign that the curing process is working.
2. Check the texture: After a few days of curing, the meat should start to feel firmer to the touch. This is another sign that the curing process is working.
3. Check for spoilage: While rare, there is always a risk of spoilage during the curing process. Check for any signs of mold or unusual smells. If you notice any signs of spoilage, discard the ham immediately.
4. Taste test: After a few days of curing, you can do a taste test to see if the ham is developing the desired flavor. Cut off a small piece and taste it to see if it’s salty enough or if it needs more time in the brine.
Remember, curing times can vary depending on the size and thickness of your ham, so be patient and keep an eye on your ham throughout the process. With a little practice and attention to detail, you’ll be able to create delicious homemade ham that will impress your family and friends.