I like Prosciutto, however it is bit hard to find round here not in a pre-sliced / pre-packaged form. Once sliced it does not keep well oxidizing and rapidly develops off flavors. Speck which is a northern Italian /Austrian version which is smoked and also has great flavor but is not to be found around here. Plus my wife objects to the $70+ dollar shipments from Amazon, which I order in the winter and then UPS then throws in the ditch by the mailbox rather than delivering up to our doorstep (another long story). However I can cut up the chunk, freezing some. I slice off what I need as I need it and retain the fresh cut flavor.
So after reading a few books on dry curing and watching yet more YouTube videos, I decided to tackle making some Country ham / Speck. The curing chamber was already constructed. So now the problem was how to procure the raw ham and then cold smoke before drying. The meat was easy as our local grocer – Woodman’s, had the fresh front legs (a.k.a. green picnic hams) on special.
Meanwhile it is mid-winter in Wisconsin, meaning my Big Green Egg was frozen shut (really frozen shut with > 1/2″ ice covering) and I did not yet have a cold smoke generator. I have smoked a lot of meat on the BGE but it has always been hot smoked (190-230F smoker temp) but for these hams we are looking for <90F smoker temp. After some research which lead to both very expensive and very simple / inexpensive options I settled on the A-Maze-N 5×8″ smoker which uses wood pellets. Nice and simple, no modifications to the grill or having to connect air pumps as on some of the more expensive models.
I melted the BGE open the night before for a steak dinner and then propped it open for the next morning (no snow forecast and -10F temps) . Next day I add a few big lumps of charcoal as spacers and place the A-Maze-n smoker with mixed wood pellets and get it lit. Once lit, blow out the fie, add the meat and walk away. Internal temp of the BGE averaged 46F over 10 hours (that is COLD smoking).
After smoking the upper edges of the meat were pierced for butcher’s twine to hang in the dry box (smoke aroma is good but a bit harsh about now). I used Traeger Signature Blend pellets.