Smoked Ham

basting-the-ham I made a ham according to Rhulman and Polcyn's 'Holiday Ham' recipe, from their book Charcuterie. I marinated it for 5 days in salt, brown sugar, and pink salt; I hot smoked it with the madrone for 5 hours then baked it for another 90 minutes, until done. It's smells totally delicious and I even woke up this morning to the smell of ham. At first I thought it was smell memory, but then I realized my clothes were permeated with the thick smoke.

ham-and-eggs

It was really good, the only fault I could point to would be a certain dryness. Indeed, the large ham section weighed 9 pounds 13 ounces after being brined, but after I baked it weighed 6 pounds 12 ounces. That means that 3 pounds of juices and fat has dissapeared, so it's no wonder it's a little dry. I thought maybe I should boil it after smoking, but it now occurs to me that I could do a cold smoke followed by a sous vide cooking, but that's very complex. My father was recently describing some Spanish ham he ate recently. 'It was like no ham I ever tasted. It was sweet and light and its texture was more like a pate rather than a cut of meat.' This sounds like a dreamy goal.

sourdough-loaves

This is the second batch of sourdough I've made. I'm still amazed that I've created the culture myself out of nothing, I didn't use any added yeast. The scoring is still a mystery for me. The top loaf was scored more then halfway through, but when it rose in the oven the terrace effect I was hoping for instead became flattened. A loaf that stands out in my memory is from Acme bread in San Francisco. All the loaves, in addition to being totally deliscous, were works of art. They were so perfect you felt almost disjointed from normal life. The scoring on those loaves were like deep canyons, and that pulling apart of the bread was really well done. I love this passage from Marcus Aurelius:

This also thou must observe, that whatsoever it is that naturally doth happen to things natural, hath somewhat in itself that is pleasing and delightful: as a great loaf when it is baked, some parts of it cleave as it were, and part asunder, and make the crust of it rugged and unequal, and yet those parts of it, though in some sort it be against the art and intention of baking itself, that they are thus cleft and parted, which should have been and were first made all even and uniform, they become it well nevertheless, and have a certain peculiar property, to stir the appetite.