Smoked, parsley stuffed ham..a bit like stuffed chine.

July 3, 2017

My grandparents hail from the oft-passed less-stopped county of Lincolnshire.  It's the second largest but least populated county in the UK, you would only really have good reason to go there if you were travelling up the A1 and skimmed Grantham.  However, as a huge farming area with bag loads of great local food history (post drainage of the fens of course!) and being a bit isolated (note: I didn't use the word inbred!) there are some culinary specialities worth noting.

 

One such speciality is called 'stuffed chine'; 'chine' being the neck cut of pork immediately behind the head, which locals stuff with parsley, although other leafy items are documented to have been used including nettles, marjoram, thyme, sage and most peculiarly, blackcurrant leaves(!).  The chine cut is prepared by cutting 'pockets' into it from the spine end towards the skin, then cured as one would a cut of ham, then stuffed with parsley (or other herby equivalent) before being cooked the same way you would a ham.  Once cooked it is sliced perpendicular to the 'pockets' of parsley which gives it a great appearance of lucid green and bright pink stripes of the parsley and the ham; which is usually served cold with a dash of malt vinegar.  There's more on the history of chine at slow food.org.uk; there's also a really good video of Ade Edmondson (of TV show Bottom fame) visiting one of the few remaining butchers in Louth, Lincolnshire, that still makes stuffed chine.

 

We had stuffed chine at my grandparents house on special occasions, which my grandpa used to make himself; "always remember, you need much more parsley than you think you do when stuffing a chine" he used to say...advice that I definitely took forward into this cook.

 

So, onto the cook.  Those with any sense of butchery will realise from the photos that I have not in fact cooked a chine, and have in fact used a shoulder of pork (rolled at that to be honest).  However, in my defence, this was the experimental version as to not do an entire chine and realise I had really messed it up.  You'll also question why chine would appear on a barbecue blog...well, this is the innovation.  If you are effectively making a stuffed ham, why not make a smoked, stuffed ham and get some smoky goodness in there too?  So, what you see here, I assume for the first time (certainly from what I've seen on the internet), is a smoked, stuffed pork shoulder in the style of a Lincolnshire stuffed chine.  (N.B. I will get round to doing a proper chine next time!).

 

The smoked ham part of the recipe is taken predominantly from Steve Raichlen's smoked ham recipe, only adapted to make the 'pockets' before brining and then stuffing the pockets before smoking.  I also only did the hot smoking and skipped the cold smoking, but if I wanted to boost the smokiness to generate the ham more I would keep the cold smoking part in.  Vary the ingredients to the size of you pork, mine was about half, so I halved everything.  I hot smoked mine with oak between 225-250F until the ham internal temperature was 160F, this took about 5-6 hours.

 

Verdict?

Excellent, but cannot wait to repeat with an actual piece of chine from the local butcher, not least so I can get the amazing looking tiger stripes running through it.  The ham element of it was absolutely delicious, awesome smoky flavour, great firm ham texture, not too salty.  Predictably, being a rolled shoulder, the lovely tiger stripes associated with stuffed chine were not present and the parsley pretty much fell out.  However, there was enough of it for a coating of herby goodness.  What would I change? Use a proper chine cut and not be so brutal when stuffing it that it all forms central stuffing cavity as opposed to getting the tiger stripes.  Taste-wise the only change I would only consider is upping the smokiness with a cold smoke before doing the hot smoke and only using the leaves of the parsley as the stalks don't blend down too well (but as most of the parsley came out anyway it made little difference.

 

(See beneath the photos for the recipe, partially adapted from Steve Raichlen's smoked ham recipe.

 

 Ingredients (as per Steve Raichlen's Smokehouse Ham recipe)

  • 1 fresh shoulder ham (aka picnic ham; 9 to 10 pounds)

  • 1 pound (3¼ cups) coarse salt (sea or kosher)

  • 8 ounces (1 cup) packed dark brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon pink curing salt (Prague Powder No. 1 or Insta Cure No. 1)

  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice

  • 3 quarts hot water

  • 2 quarts ice water

Optional (I only used the juniper berries)

  • 10 whole cloves

  • 5 juniper berries, smashed with the side of a chef’s knife or cleaver

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 4 strips orange zest (½ inch by 2 inches)

  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed with the side of a cleaver

Method (as per Steve Raichlen's Smokehouse Ham recipe)

Step 1: Make the brine: Place the coarse salt, sugar, pickling spice, curing salt, and 3 quarts hot water in a large nonreactive pot. Stir in additional flavorings, if using. Bring to a boil over high heat and continue boiling until the salts and sugar are completely dissolved, stirring from time to time, 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the ice water. Let cool completely, then refrigerate until cold.

Step 2: Strain 2 cups brine into a measuring cup. Using a meat injector, inject this portion of the brine deep into the ham at 1½-inch intervals along the bone. Continue injecting until all the measured brine is used.

Step 3: Place the ham in a jumbo heavy-duty resealable plastic bag. Place it in a roasting pan or a large, deep nonreactive container, such as a clean food-grade plastic bucket or a deep stockpot. Add the brine to the bag (the ham should be completely submerged), then squeeze the air out and seal the bag. Cure in the refrigerator for 7 days. Turn the ham over daily so it cures evenly. Halfway through the curing time (3½ days), measure out 2 more cups of brine, strain it, and reinject the ham with it. A properly cured ham will look pink (like commercially cured ham).

Step 4: After 7 days, drain the ham well, rinse thoroughly with cold water, and dry with paper towels. If you plan to hang the ham in your smoker, securely tie the shank (narrow) end with butcher’s string; make sure the string is substantial enough to support the weight of the ham. You can also smoke the ham on a rack in your smoker. No string needed.

Step 5: Set up your smoker for cold-smoking following the manufacturer’s instructions; the temperature should be below 100°F. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer. Hang the ham in the smoker or place it on one of the racks. Cold smoke the ham at no more than 100°F for 12 hours. (Cold-smoking infuses the meat with smoke flavor without cooking the meat.)

Step 6: Set up your smoker for hot-smoking following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 225° to 250°F. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer.

Step 7: Hot-smoke the ham until cooked through (the internal temperature should reach about 160°F), 10 to 12 hours. I use a remote digital thermometer, but you can also check for doneness with an instant-read thermometer. In either case, insert the probe deep into the meat but not touching the bone.

Step 8: You can serve the ham hot out of the smoker, or let it cool on a wire rack to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve. Refrigerated, it will keep for at least a week. Glaze and reheat it as you would a commercial ham.

 

The photo below shows what a proper stuffed chine looks like, albeit this one wouldn't have been smoked!!

 

(Photo above courtesy of Curtis of Lincoln).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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