We always look forward to a family gathering at Christmas and a ham has always been an essential feature on the Christmas table. In the past we have used brine cured hams, however this seemed to be a great opportunity to try and produce a dry cured ham that we heard is so much tastier.

Our starting point was a 7.5kg leg of pork, courtesy of Pinky (but more about this later). We rubbed a dry cure mixture into the leg which was then placed in the fridge for 4 days. Any liquid that formed during these 4 days was tipped away.

After 4 days in the fridge, the leg was rinsed and placed in a large AGA roasting tin, covered with a tent of foil and popped into the AGA simmering oven over night.

Off we went to bed and came down in the morning to a fantastically cooked leg of ham. Most of the liquid from the roasting tin was spooned off and frozen to make soup at a later date.

The next step was to remove the skin which was left in the tin as this would later prevent the glaze sticking to the roasting tin and burning.

The fat was lightly scored and studded with cloves. A mixture of 4 tablespoons of Demerara sugar with 4 tablespoons of Dijon mustard was mixed together and slathered over the top of the ham which was then returned to the bottom shelf of the roasting oven and cooked for 15 minutes to glaze.

In conclusion this was the easiest and most hassle free method that we have ever used to cooked a ham.  Not only did it look fantastic but it tasted absolutely delicious. 

 

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Whilst writing this blog a newspaper article came to our attention concerning the atrocious and cruel conditions in which some pigs are kept for the production of Parma ham in Italy for export to the UK.  Stories such as these often get reported and unfortunately nothing will change unless the consumer does something about it. One way that we can all contribute to the elimination of this unacceptable behaviour is to only buy meat from a trusted source. Don’t be afraid to ask a shop or restaurant where they obtain their meat – if they won’t or can’t tell you then go somewhere else. If we all adopted this approach, shops and restaurants would soon bow to public pressure and become more concerned at the quality of meat that they are selling.

At Spillers Farm we are open to 24 hour scrutiny by our B&B, holiday cottage and caravan guests who are quite welcome to take photos for posting on media websites – if only all meat producers opened themselves up to the same scrutiny!

  

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Our first venture at rearing pigs on Spillers Farm was such a great experience and certainly one that we shall repeat in the very near future.

 

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Our four little Gloucester Old Spot / Berkshire weaners became true free-rangers as we fenced off areas of our field to allow them plenty of outdoor rooting and general gallivanting space to do what pigs enjoy doing most. 

 

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Next year we are planning to let our new weaners loose in our orchard area to prepare the ground, in true piggy style, for planting 25 additional fruit trees and bushes in the Autumn. 

 

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Our aim at Spillers farm is, and always will be, to respect the animals that share our lives and to give them the best possible living conditions. We are confident that our pigs have a stress free and happy life and in return they give us so much fun watching them grow and flourish.

 

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We were warned not to name our pigs as inevitably the time comes when you have to bid them farewell and send them off to market. However we couldn’t help ourselves when our only pig with two pink ears became known as Pinky and as luck would have it Pinky was also the pig of the bunch and got to market weight first. 

 

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And that brings us to the next stage in the self-sufficiency cycle of life - we only eat meat from animals that have been humanely raised and preferably which we have personally got to know (and sometimes named) and had influence on how they have been raised. And if you are a meat eater, what better than our own Spillers Farm animals that have lived a true free range life in a stress free environment and which have been allowed to accumulate weight in their own natural time on natural resources and free from disease. 

 

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We have very fond memories of Pinky and her pals – our first piggy experience at Spillers Farm in so many ways.

 

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