Have you ever considered making your own smoked meat? This German Black Forest Ham recipe or Schwarzwaelder Schinken is an easy beginner project for do-it-yourselfers which yields delicious and quick results.
Authentic German Black Forest ham takes several months to make. It is cold smoked (low temperatures) and then air dried. While that is best done by professionals, we amateurs can use some of the same tricks to mimic the taste and appeal of this Schinken. That is especially important when we cannot buy the real thing.
In this recipe, the meat is cured for 4 hours, then smoked for less than 2 hours. It uses traditional Black Forest spices and smoking with pine chips, as they do in the Schwarzwald (Black Forest). Some smokers say to avoid pine chips at all cost because of the pine tars present, but this is how it is traditionally done in Germany.
Before You Begin
Which Cut Is Best to Use?
This "ham" can be made from almost any piece of meat off the hog. I used part of the rib meat connected to the loin. This piece of meat consists of many smaller muscles held together by fat and sinew and is not often purchased for fresh eating. Because of the salting and slow cooking, the meat is tenderized and very tasty.
- Pine and/or juniper wood chips
- Smoker or grill
- Meat thermometer
- 2.2 pounds/1 kilogram pork (fatty part of loin or ham, no more than two inches thick)
- Dry Cure:
- 4 ounces salt (kosher)
- 2 ounces sugar
- 1/2 ounce salt (pink)
- Spice Rub:
- 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons juniper berries
- 10 bay leaves (whole)
- 2 teaspoons coriander (seeds)
- 2 teaspoons marjoram (dried)
- Remove thick pieces of fat from the meat. You may leave a thin layer. Mix together the Dry Cure ingredients and coat the meat evenly with the mixture. Because of the nitrites in the salt, don't let people or pets ingest the mixture.
- Place the meat in a non-metal container (such as a Pyrex casserole dish), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours. The liquid will be drawn from the meat.
- At the three-hour mark, start your charcoal fire. Soak 2 cups (or so) of wood chips in some water.
- Wash off all the salt under running water and pat dry with paper towels.
- Make the spice rub by grinding together (I like to use an old, electric, blade coffee grinder), the whole spices, bay leaves and dried marjoram, and sprinkle over all sides of the meat, pressing to adhere.
- Place your smoking tray (or aluminum foil tray) on top of the charcoal and add 1/2 cup wet wood chips. Place the grill above that, not touching.
- Place the meat on the grill grate, cover and smoke 1 1/2 hours, until the internal temperature is 150 degrees F. or above. Add more wet chips, as needed, to keep the smoke up.
- The meat is now ready to eat or use in recipes such as pea soup, lentil stew, or eat it like breakfast ham or chop it and sprinkle on salads. You may wrap chunks in plastic and freeze for a few months, or refrigerate for two weeks.
This recipe is adapted from the recipe for Tasso Ham (a Creole delicacy) in "Charcuterie" by Michael Ruhlman (W.W. Norton & Co., 2013), a well-written cookbook on sausages, hams, bacon and other preserved foods.