I cured my first ham and corned beef in Niger in 1984. The ham because it was unavailable in Niger and we had a powerful craving, and the beef, also unavailable, because we were planning our first St. Patrick’s Day bash. The St. Patrick’s Day event proved to be so popular, complete with kegged green beer, expatriate and local musicians(including our son’s reggae band in Ethiopia performing Danny Boy), that it became a career long, annual event that we held in multiple countries. For some reason, my husband had a copy of George Leonard Herter’s “Bull Cook and Authentic Historical Recipes and Practices”. I used Herter’s recipe for curing javelin to make my hams and corned beef.
Curing the sanglier here in France presented it’s little difficulties. I couldn’t find the turkey bags, sodium nitrate, Morton’s Quick Cure or pickling spices in the garage. 1) Instead of enclosing the sanglier with the brine and spices in the turkey bag, I cleaned one of the bricks that came from my demolished chimney, enclosed it in a ziplock and used it as a weight to submerge the sanglier in the brine in one of the refrigerator’s crispers. I had used this method once before when out of turkey bags, using a brick from the construction of our outdoor smoker. 2) While walking the dog, I went to see Jacques, owner of a tobacco/coffee shop. Jacques was a butcher in Paris for over 20 years. There is a scene in the movie Moulin Rouge when Nicole Kidman sings “Your Song” to the villain and he goes all starry eyed; that happened to me when Jacques first told me that he was a retired butcher 🙂 At 7:00 a.m., he called a friend who promised to deliver the sodium nitrate to his cafe by 8:30 a.m. He gifted me with about 5 lbs, enough to last through the lifetime of my children’s great-grand children. What was cool about receiving this much sodium nitrate was that I found this really cool jar with a blackboard, chalk included, at Carrefour supermarket . I need more!
3) My first hams and corned beef were made with salt pellets that I found in African open markets, so I just bought salt pellets or gros sel at Carrefour supermarket. 4) After all, this is not “back in the day”, this is the age of the world wide web! I looked up recipes for home made pickling spices on the internet. I win again 🙂
2 1/2 gallons water
4 lbs pellet salt
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup pickling spice
1 tsp sodium nitrate
Stir the salt, sodium nitrate and brown sugar together in the water until completely dissolved. Place the sanglier in a very clean crisper drawer and sprinkle with pickling spice. Pour the salted water over and refrigerate for 5 weeks.
If you are not subscribed to my site and are interested in the outcome, better subscribe. I have timed the curing to finish 5 weeks from now when my husband will come home for Christmas and hook up my smoking cabinet. This is going to be fabulous! Stay tuned.