Many hunters and other folks view the feral hog as a nuisance and as a result they are often shot and left to the critters for dinner. Many other hunters have harvested them, only to find the meat strong tasting and dry. The truth is, the meat is and can be fantastic, and you will have a meat that is free of chemicals used in traditional processing. Upon harvesting, and after skinning and quartering, the meat should be placed in a cooler with plenty of ice to allow it to bleed down for a couple of days .this will remove most of the undesirable hormones and blood from the meat. Then you can debone and freeze your favorite cuts, or be ready to begin making sausage or whatever else you may desire .Remember , be sure to trim off all fat from the hog as it will turn rancid if left on the meat, even in the freezer!
Back in the April issue this year, I introduced a curing process on wild turkey, designed to take an otherwise generally dry piece of meat and turn it into a succulent and tender treat . The same process can be used on feral hog ham.
THE SUGAR CURE
(Starting with a 6 to 10 lb. ham) Mix 1 pint each of sugar and sea or kosher salt into 1 ½ to 2 gallons of cold water. Stir until its all dissolved. Place the ham in a large disposable plastic bag. Using your turkey injector, draw up two to three full syringes of the solution and inject it in next to the bone in several places on the ham.( This will help the curing process to get to the places most vulnerable to spoiling when on a pit) .Then pour the rest of the cure solution in the bag with the ham. Squeeze all of the air out of the bag and tie it up tight and close to the meat. Place the bag in a refrigerator or a cooler lined with plenty of ice and allow it to sit in the solution for 24 to 48 hours. Then, remove the ham from the bag, rinse it off , then it is ready for the pit.
After preheating your pit, I like to start with about five pounds of lump hardwood charcoal, then add seasoned pecan, post oak, and a little hickory wood for smoke and flavor enhancement. place the ham in the pit at the far end from the firebox with the temperature at about 250 to 275 degrees, and baste every 45 minutes or so. Flip the ham every 1 ½ hours and continue basting. (I would use 45 minutes to the pound as a guide for smoking times) or until a meat thermometer inserted next to the bone registers 160 degrees. Remove from the pit to a platter and drape a loose piece of foil over the ham for 30 to 45 minutes before carving, to rest the meat. Heat remaining baste to a boil on the stove then you can use the remainder as a sauce when serving. Try not to hurt yourself by attempting to eat the whole ham while carving it. Enjoy with your favorite sides. Baste for the ham:
1 jar- Texas Gourmet’s Mandarin orange Serrano jelly
3 t- fresh rosemary leaves – chopped
1 stick of butter (salted is ok)
1/2 cup-olive oil
2T- black pepper
3 T- soy sauce
6 cloves- fresh garlic- minced
1 T ground ginger
6 ounces – Crown Royal (that’s right partner, and don’t be drinking the darned sauce all up either!)
John Passmore says its larapin good! Heat all of the above ingredients until well blended together, then remove from heat and use a good silicone or paint style basting brush for applying (the cloth style will drink up too much baste and hold it).