Glazed sorghum ham

Glazed sorghum ham

By
From
Deep South
Makes
1 ham
Photographer
Andy Sewell

Baked ham was on the table every Sunday for lunch at the farm in Holly Bluff where I spent part of my childhood. It was lacquered in sorghum, a syrup rendered from the stalks of the millet family, and the sweet contrast to the salinity of the meat makes a succulent roast.

If you prefer not to cure the ham yourself, you could purchase an aged country ham. In this case, be sure to follow any instructions for soaking it in water, in order to draw back a little strength from the original salting. A general rule of thumb is to soak a ham for 24–36 hours, changing the water as often as possible but at least every 4 hours.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
a leg of pork, weighing 5–6kg, skin removed but as much fat left as possible
225g sorghum syrup

For the brine:

Quantity Ingredient
a small bunch thyme
12 peppercorns
5 bay leaves
6 garlic cloves
1kg caster sugar
1kg salt
60g prague powder number 1

Method

  1. First make the brine. Heat 2 litres water in a large pan with the thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves and garlic cloves. Add the sugar, salt and Prague powder, together with another 8 litres cold water. Stir to make sure the sugar and salt have dissolved, then chill thoroughly.
  2. Stab the pork all over with a metal skewer, going right through the meat. Lower it into the brine so it is completely submerged. To ensure the meat is brined all the way through, you need to allow 1 day for every 1.2cm at its thickest part, plus another 2 days. A joint that is 12cm thick, for example, will take 12 days.
  3. Once the brining period is over, remove the ham and rinse it well in cold water. Leave it for 2–3 days on a rack in the fridge to dry out. Alternatively, you could cold smoke it for an hour before baking.
  4. To cook the ham, place it in a deep baking tray and put it in the centre of an oven heated to 180°C. Bake for 2–3 hours, until a meat thermometer inserted at its thickest part reads 63°C; alternatively, a metal skewer inserted at the same point should be hot to the touch when it comes out. A general rule of thumb is to allow 20–25 minutes’ cooking per 500g. Check it every 20 minutes or so and turn the tray for even colouring, reducing the oven temperature to 160°C if the ham is browning too quickly.
  5. Remove the ham from the oven and drain off all the fat. Mix the fat with the sorghum syrup, stirring until thoroughly combined. Spoon half of this mixture over the ham, using a pastry brush to distribute it evenly and making sure every part is covered. Return the ham to the oven for 15 minutes, then remove and repeat with the second half of the glaze, basting it with the juices in the tin, too. Put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes, being careful not to let the glaze scorch or it will be bitter. Reglaze with any glaze in the baking tray, then transfer the ham to a serving dish and leave to rest for at least an hour before carving. It can be served at room temperature or, even better, slightly chilled.
Tags:
American
Southern cooking
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