So, like bacon, commercial ham is a problem if you are avoiding corn and all corn derivatives. I’ve tried on multiple occasions to cure a 4-5 pound pork shoulder or a boneless Boston butt (pork butt roast), but the cure only goes in about an inch from the surface and then it’s like a version of a turducken, ham on the outside, pork roast on the inside. That’s really not what I was aiming for, and no matter how many holes I poked into the larger cuts of pork (imagine me maniacally stabbing pork shoulders with a barbecue fork), the same thing kept happening. So I decided to try ham steaks so that the density of the cut would be less thick and the whole thing might cure. Well, it did, and I have ham I can eat again.
Cure Your Own Ham Steaks
- 5 pound boneless Boston butt, a.k.a. pork butt roast (here’s a link to show you what you’re looking for)
- 1 1/2 gallons of cold water
- 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of kosher, pickling or sea salt (make sure there’s no anti-caking agents and that it’s not iodized salt, or it’ll have corn in it)
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 3/4 teaspoons of celery juice powder (if you don’t have celery juice powder, you can try taking about 7-8 stalks of celery, roughly chop them and liquefy them in the blender)
Slice the boneless Boston butt across the grain (go look here if you don’t know what that means) into 1 inch thick slices.
Place all the ingredients listed, except for the boneless Boston butt slices, in a large plastic container. When choosing your container, please note that the boneless Boston butt slices will also need to fit into this container, along with a heavy plate or bowl to weigh the slices down into the brine, and it will all need to be able to fit into your refrigerator. Stir until all the salt, sugar, and celery juice powder is dissolved into the water.
Add the boneless Boston butt slices to the brine and make sure they are submerged (you can use a plate or a bowl to weigh them down).
Cover the plastic container with a lid, if it has one, or use plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Place the container in the refrigerator and brine the boneless Boston butt slices for 3 to 4 days. At the halfway point, rotate the position of the the boneless Boston butt slices so they brine evenly.
After the brining is done, rinse the slices well, making sure there aren’t any peppercorns stuck to the slices.
I’ve cooked the resulting ham steaks two ways, in the oven sort of like a whole ham, and seared on the stove top in cast iron and finished in the oven, more like a ham steak.
To roast the ham steaks like a whole ham, place the steaks in a roasting pan or baking sheet, and coat them with a bit of brown sugar as a rub. Bake them in a roasting pan at 375°F degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour or until the internal temperature is 160°F degrees.
To cook them like ham steaks, preheat your oven to 375°F degrees. Place a bit of safe for you oil in a cast iron skillet, and turn the burner to medium heat. When the oil and skillet is hot, place the steaks in the skillet, and sear until there is nice golden, caramel crust. Turn the steaks over, and sear the other side. Once both sides of the ham steaks are seared, place the skillet in the oven and roast them for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160°F degrees.
Enjoy your ham!