I've been typing recipes for the last few hours. We changed the dessert menu tonight and we're leaving for SF on Sunday morning so I needed to make sure all the new items are in the book before we leave. So I'm tired of typing recipes. But I didn't want to leave you folks sitting there with your pig in many pieces and not knowing how to proceed. I probably won't finish in this post (I have to sleep sometime) but I'll get you started.
Before we go on too much further though I should say I was remiss in not having you make a curing mixture and brine before you started cutting. To start you'll need salt and sugar. I use sea salt for pretty much everything in my kitchen, kosher salt works well also. If you're a kosher salt user you might have to put a little bit more salt in your mix than I do because the granules are larger.
So 5 parts salt to 4 parts sugar. That's easy huh? From there season according to your use. I usually add 4 or so bay leaves, and a small handful of black peppercorns. For use with smoked bacon I'll add a Tbs of cloves, one of coriander and a few grinds of allspice. For unsmoked, cured bellies (like pancetta) I'll increase the peppercorns slightly, add a Tbs of red chile flakes and 2-3 Tbs of garlic.
To turn this into brine use 1 qt of mixture to 1 gallon of water. Again season according to use. For brining hams I'll add 30 or so juniper berries, 10 cloves, 15 allspice berries, 3-4 bay leaves and a quarter cup of peppercorns per gallon. I go back and forth on mirepoix and usually think it doesn't add to the mix. I will however toss in any parsley stems that happen to be lying around. Bring this to a boil and then cool it down before using. This way you have a useful brine bucket before you start the butchery.
While you can get quite scientific about brining hams a la Paul Bertolli's very complicated ham curing recipe you can have a more relaxed approach to the process as well. The main thing is you want to get the brine into the ham and the best way to do this is with a brine injector. If you think this looks like something your dentist uses on you, you're pretty much right. It's a giant syringe, with a blunt tip and holes in the needle part of it. You suck the brine up into the syringe, poke it into the meat and slowly inject the brine into the muscle. You can see the muscle swell so you can be sure you're getting it inside. If you were really desperate and you had a smallish leg you could conceivably get by with savagely stabbing the leg with a knitting needle hundreds of times and hope that all the brine penetrates. The issue here is spoilage folks. This needs to cure for around 2 weeks, give or take. What happens to unsalted meat after 2 weeks in your refrigerator? So if you intend on making any hams, break down and buy a brine injector. You're worth it.
Take your time, make sure you inject all the way into the deepest part of the muscle. Do this in a container because the brine will leak out of the holes you're making. You may have to pierce the skin with the tip of your knife because the end of the brine injector is blunt.
Once you're sure you've gotten brine to every bit of the interior you need to cover the entire leg with brine. Then you let this cure for approximately 2 weeks. You can cook it after 10 days and I'm not sure I'd keep it any longer than 3 weeks. A word of caution, this ham will not be pink. There are no nitrites in the brine so the ham will be greyish/brownish. If you or your loved ones have to have a pink ham, you'll have to use curing salt or sodium nitrite. Strengths of the mixtures differ. You should refer to your particular mixture for how much to use for your batch of brine. The taste will also be slightly affected. I'm not a no nitrite kind of guy. Like most things, when used in excess it's not so good but in small quantities just fine.
I won't instruct you on roasting the ham once it's ready. You can come up with your favorite ham recipe on your own. I will say that once brined you can also smoke the ham if you have a smoker big enough, but I prefer the taste of unsmoked ham.
That's it for tonight. I know we still have a big pile of pork to get through but that's all I can do for now.