Lamb Ham? What's that then?
Well. It's a country ham but rather than using pork it uses lamb. Yip. It's cured then smoked lamb. Now curing and smoking lamb isn't exactly the norm here in the UK, so I just had to give it a go. And I'm glad I did. What a delicious spring delicacy. The lamb ham is sweet, buttery and smoky, with just a hint of lamb flavour.
Apparently the original recipe is an American one dating back to colonial times. It uses a dry cure and a leg of lamb and takes up to a year to achieve the country ham effect. I can't wait a year so I opted for a city-style approach. I went with a boned shoulder instead because it's the cut I generally prefer, a wet cure and a dry rub before smoking.
You gotta try this. Seriously. I'm definitely doing it again and I'll go for the shoulder next time.
1 boned shoulder or leg of lamb.
4.5l cold water
350g sea salt flakes. I use Maldon Sea Salt.
300g light Muscovado sugar
50g Insta Cure No. 1. I use Prague Powder #1.
10g crushed black peppercorns
1 lemon, sliced. Wash the rind first.
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
10g fennel seed, crushed
2 tbs coarsely ground fennel seeds
2 tbs coarsely ground coriander seed
A big pinch of chilli flakes
1. Make the cure. Dissolve the sugar and salt in boiling water then let it cool to room temperature. Add the Insta Cure, peppercorns, fennel seeds, rosemary and lemon slices.
2. Place the lamb in a plastic or ceramic container and pour over the cure. Don't use a metal container because it will taint the meat. Put the lid on, refrigerate and brine for 6 days.
3. After 6 days, take the lamb out of the fridge. Remove it from the brine and let it drain. Pat dry with kitchen roll.
4. Place the lamb uncovered back in the fridge for 2 days to dry.
5. After 2 days, take the lamb out of the fridge again and let it come up to room temperature. Meanwhile, coarsely grind fennel and coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle. Add in chilli flakes then rub the mixture onto the lamb.
6. Smoke the lamb around 95-110 for between 4 to 6 hours depending on your size and cut of meat, or until its internal temperature hits 65 degrees C. I smoked the lamb in my Drumbecue using sweet chestnut wood.
7. Leave to cool then slice and enjoy.