From our Bogota pulled pork to the slow roasted chicken we use, it's all made fresh so we know exactly what goes in everything. The most intense meat we make, that also has the most satisfying results, is our cured ham and we wanted to share the process with you so you can see for yourself.
It takes 5 days to make this ham and it's not a process that can be rushed. First we start off with preparing all the things we need for the brine.
Brining meat is a natural way of preserving, by using a salt solution to draw out the moisture through osmosis so that bacteria cannot grow on the meat. This is actually a process that has been used for centuries especially since we didn't always have refrigerators to keep meat cold and preserved. We are curing the meat for flavour rather then preservation but the basis of the process is the same. Our mixture is made up of regular salt, curing salt, natural yellow sugar (unlike brown sugar there is no added molasses and it is not refined) and liquid smoke. While people may at first think that the sugar is for sweetness, it is actually used to cut the bitterness of the salt in the meat. There's a whole scientific thing behind this entire process which means you have to follow certain rules in order for it to work, like having the right solution.
Before I go into the details of the how we prepare and use the solution we need to prep the meat. Most ham is made from the "back end" (yes, the butt) of a pig including the back leg portion but we prefer to use pork tenderloin for our meat which is found along the back spine of the pig. This meat is far more tender since the muscles aren't used as much as the "back end" muscles. The meat is trimmed and cut into smaller sections for convenience.
The solution is made up by mixing the salts, sugar and flavour into warm water and stirring until it is completely dissolved. It's important that we use hot water to help everything dissolve but we can't use the hot mixture on the meat until it's cold, so once we are done mixing all the ingredients we will chill the liquid for an hour or two.
You can really notice the difference in the brine liquid from the warm cloudy mixture up top to the cooled fully dissolved darker mixture below. Now we pour the mixture over the meat, put everything in an air tight container and refrigerate it for 4 days to let the process do it's thing. You know, science...
On the 5th day
We have patiently waited the 4 days the tenderloin needed in order to get the perfect flavour out of its brine bath. We can now slow roast the pork in the oven until it reaches the perfect internal temperature which takes about an hour.
You would think that the process it has gone through would leave the meat dry and salty but it's actually very flavourful and juicy, making it hard not to devour the entire thing at once.
What could we possibly use this labour intensive meat for? The Pig and Fig sandwich!
So, the next time you're in the shop and order one of these sandwiches remember that it took 5 days to make your ham taste perfect.