I’ve said before that I’m lucky to know Cindy Wolf and Kelly O’Neill of Sheep Improvement, who raise terrific lamb, grass-fed beef, and big furry guard dogs. They sell their lamb and beef at farmer’s markets around southeast Minnesota and in the Twin Cities. I love lamb, and it’s great to get such good stuff from such great local people.
When perusing the recipes in Salumi, I was immediately drawn to the recipe for Lamb Prosciutto with Garlic. After a few emails with Matt Wright of the Wrightfood blog, I got myself a couple of lamb legs from Cindy. Matt Wright’s experience was that the skinless lamb legs tend to get pretty hard and dry on the outside, much like my previous experiences with bresaola, so I decided that I would use the same laminated “bladder” casings from Butcher and Packer that I used for the culatello for my lamb.
Here’s what I started with:
- 1 boneless leg of lamb, 1.88kg
- 1 boneless leg of lamb, 1.48kg
- 2 boxes Morton’s Kosher Salt
- 9 cloves of garlic, chopped
- approximately 1/2 cup black peppercorns, roasted
Here’s one of the two legs, before I did anything to it.
A little chopping of garlic, a little toasting of peppercorns…..
At this point, it was time to rub the meat with the garlic and pepper, then pack them in salt. Given the relatively small size of these lamb legs (compared to the hams I’d been working with previously), I was able to pack them in salt in 1-gallon zipper bags. I used a box (3 pounds) of Morton’s Kosher Salt for each bag.
I put these on a sheet pan, then put another sheet pan on top, and put it in the Back Fridge, and put 10 lbs. of weights on the top sheet pan. (I used two 5-lb. weight plates, which I got used at Play It Again Sports) The legs sat in the fridge for almost a week.
Here’s what they looked like after I rinsed and dried them, and removed the elastic netting bags. The weight has compacted them, making them into flatter ovals. At this point, I started soaking the laminated casings in warm water, and got out my butcher twine, needles, and scissors.
I followed basically the same process as I did with the culatelli, but the meat was already drier, and thus not so slippery. The fact that these were smaller than the culatelli made the tying process easier, too.
At this point, I weighed each of the legs again.
The first leg, originally 1.88kg, was now 1.695kg. The one pictured above started at 1.48kg, and was now 1.32kg. I hung the two of them in my curing chamber (which is averaging about 75% humidity) on November 4th.
The recipe in Salumi says that these will be done when they have lost 30% of their weight. The big question now is whether that’s 30% of the original weight, or 30% of the after salt weight? Either way, it’s more waiting.