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Cider Braised Ham Steaks

Updated: Jun 4

When people think about ham, they usually imagine the big pink, cured leg of pork that you serve at a holiday meal. Or maybe the pink deli meat that you put on a sandwich.


But if I said to you, "fresh ham steak," do you know what that is? Or more importantly, how to cook it? What it tastes like?


Let's define what a fresh ham steak is, first.


A ham steak is a slice of meat from the back leg, or ham, of a pig. It can be used like you would use any steak.


But just because it has "ham" in the name, does not mean that it is cured and pink. The term "fresh" implies uncured. Curing consists of marinating or injecting meat with a solution of salt, sugar, and other spices. Unless they specify that it is a nitrite/nitrate free cure, it has nitrates. Some people choose to avoid eating nitrates for health reasons. Nitrates are responsible for keeping cured ham (and bacon) pink when it cooks, rather than turning brown like other cooked meats.


Therefore, a fresh ham steak is not going to cook up like a slice of pink holiday ham. Think of it more like a blank canvas of pork waiting for you to flavor it with your own delicious, chemical free ingredients.


Lucky for us, it's not hard to make pasture raised pork sumptuous.


A good rule of thumb is, if you add a little salt and maple to good pork, you are in for a treat. If you can work cider (either hard or sweet), into the recipe, then you will think you died and went to heaven.



Ingredients:

1 fresh ham steak

1 tbs lard

1 tbs maple syrup

Salt to taste

12oz cider (hard or sweet)


About 2.5 hours before dinner, brown the steak on both sides in a dutch oven or heavy frying pan.


Season with salt and maple.



Once browned, pour the cider on, place a lid on it, and simmer for at least 1 hour.



About a half hour before meal time, remove the lid and if you need to, turn up the heat enough to reduce the liquid so that it gets thick and syrupy. Be careful that you don't mistake rendered fat on the surface for water based liquid, which could cause you to let it burn. Keep and eye on the dark liquid under the clear fat, and remove it from the heat when it has thickened, before it burns.



Cider braised ham steak is delicious served with mashed potatoes and fermented sauerkraut. Be sure to spoon the cider reduction on the mashed potatoes!


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If you want to try cider braised ham steaks, you can either purchase them at the farm (instructions here) or purchase a whole or half hog and have the butcher cut up a ham for you into steaks.

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