Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kassler Ham for Thanksgiving

Nov 17 2012

I and most of our family are not great turkey fans so for this Thanksgiving I decided to do a Kassler Ham. I don’t know where I first ran across this but after researching it I found Kassler Ham was one German cured meat that never caught on here in the US. I think it really did except evolved into our Canadian or back bacon, since it is done with pork loin instead of pork belly. The only difference I can find is in the brine seasoning, Kassler Ham has juniper berries, thyme, and coriander where the other bacons usually don’t. It is said that Kassler Ham can be found in most German deli’s and meat shops.

I looked at a lot of recipes and decided on one that was supposed to be an old family recipe. I e-mailed the recipe to Poppa Tom asking his advice; I consider him our guru on sausage and cured meats at pelletheads forum. He said it was authentic German and addressed my concerns about too much salt. I followed his advice on the salt and sugar. So this is for you Poppa Tom, hope it turns out good and thanks for the advice.

Yesterday I bought a whole pork loin from my butcher Kah’s. It is not one of his fresh butchered loins but anything he sells is top quality. It is all natural, no solution or ingredients added and weighed 10.5 pounds. I made my brine this morning and let cool. I divided the loin into 3 pieces, the one for my Kassler Ham was 4.5 pounds, and I froze the other two. The recipe called for brining for 48 hours, mine will be a little longer. I injected the loin with the brine, in a square pattern about every inch and a half. I plan to smoke the ham Tuesday, one hour on smoke and then 225 deg. to an IT of 150 to 155 deg. Wednesday I will check it to see if it is good and plan to steam it in a roaster oven for Thanksgiving Day.

My sides for Thanksgiving I plan to do are, hot German potato salad, sweet potatoes, corn pudding, and a green bean casserole. I’ll have some rye bread for anyone that wants a ham sandwich. For appetizers I’ll have smoked Cajun and smoked Korean crackers and for toppers I’ll have some of my smoked Gouda and sharp cheddar cheese, chorizo, and salami. My wife always wants a veggie plate and dip, so I guess we’ll have that.

I am not very good at making desserts so I will probably buy something.

I will add more photos and results after Thanksgiving. Smokin Don

Brine ingredients, CW from the left, kosher salt, brown sugar, bay leaves and juniper berries, smashed garlic, thyme, sage, and coriander and pink salt

My Pork Loin


Nov 20 2012

My Kassler ham had been in the brine for 60 hours, time to smoke it today. Sunday I had told my wife I was not going to cook until Thanksgiving. She said she would so Mon. night she had fish from Captain D’s. Tonight she had chicken sandwiches from Wendy’s. Wed. Night she will have pizza from Beer & Wine Depot. So far it’s been good! I should give her credit though, last week she baked her usual pumpkin bread to give to friends and relatives for Thanksgiving.

At 9:30 AM I got the loin out of the brine, rinsed well then back in the fridge to air dry for 2 ½ hours. I got it on my Traeger, smoke mode 170 deg. at noon, fat side down. I was using Traeger oak pellets and loaded my Amazn tube smoker filled with some Smokin Bros. 100% apple wood pellets for some additional smoke. After 45 minutes on smoke mode I went to 225 deg.

I was using my new Maverick ET732 probes for the first time. I used my ET84 for a second temp. The two ran 1 to 2 deg. different during the cook. As I kind of knew, my pit temp. at grill level ran a consistent 20 deg. hotter than the digital temp. from the RTD.

After 3 ¼ hours total the loin was up to an IT of 150 deg. I pulled it and tented for ½ hour then removed the foil to cool some more. I wrapped in saran wrap and then foil and in the fridge to rest. My Traeger was running closer to 235 deg. and pit temp was at 255 deg. through most of the cook. The tube smoker lasted through the cook with about an hour left.

The loin sure looked good, had a nice color. I hope it tastes good. I was going to slice it tomorrow but will wait until Thurs. morning so it sets the recommended two days.

Ready for the smoker after brine and air dry

My temp. monitors

After one hour, tube smoker still going

It was great to monitor my meat and pit temps while inside doing other chores

At 150 deg. IT ready to pull

Ready to rest

Fat side after a rest, ready to wrap and in the fridge

Updated: Nov 21 2012

Today I smoked two batches of crackers, 3 sleeves each. I did one batch of Cajun crackers and one batch of Korean crackers. I will serve them with appetizers tomorrow.I smoked them for 1 1/2 hours at 170 deg.

Printable Smoked Cracker Recipes

Crackers done on the smoker

Korean crackers on top, Cajun on the bottom

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