Last year, my Bride had given me a copy of Edward Lee's fantastic cookbook Smoke & Pickles, which is just full of fantastic goodies & recipes. (It's where I got the bourbon-pickled jalapeño recipe, which my whole family loves).
One of the recipes that I was really itching to try was his lamb prosciutto. I've occasionally found this on menus at restaurants with good charcuterie plates, and I was especially intrigued as the recipe said you could get a good cure on in about 100 days. As opposed to the 18-24 months it takes for a pork prosciutto.
So when I dropped off my pigs at the butcher in November, I asked Mike to set aside a bone in leg of lamb for me. I don't know why the hell we're so averse to lamb here in the US - when we lived in England, it was easy enough and therefore relatively reasonable to get a leg of lamb for a Sunday dinner. Fortunately, our butcher is well equipped to source pretty much anything.
Leg of lamb? No problem. I've spared you the raw photo - but here it is after the cure. Isn't she lovely?
Edward Lee's recipe is for a curried prosciutto - mixing the normal salt and spices with a curry powder rub. I like a good curry, but I had a hard time imagining it on my prosciutto. And besides, this was my first go at this one, so I kept it simple.
I followed my typical prosciutto cure - a whole lot of salt, and a little pepper thrown in for good measure. I rubbed the whole leg down well and left it to sit in the salt box for a few days - checking on it and rubbing salt in the areas that were exposed every other day or so. Give it a good turn. Check again in a couple of days.
After about a week or ten days of this, I hung it with the other prosciuttos, and walked away.
I actually ended up leaving the leg to hang for about 120 days or so. Because it was winter, and because I was leaving it for less time, I didn't bother putting a muslin sack on this one (which keeps any flies off in the summer).
The leg of lamb is, of course, smaller than a pork leg, and because it cures faster, the change in the texture, size & heft of the meat is more noticeable. When I pulled it down, the surface felt taut & firm. And the leg was so small, I wasn't sure how the slices would turn out.
I cut off the main portions of meat as you can see above, and the meat was a lovely, dark, dark rose, with beautiful firm streaks of fat still visible. I sliced a few slivers off on my deli slicer to try. The flavor was amazing - more rich and (for lack of a better word) "lamb-y".
I kept slicing.
I ended up with more than I thought I would, from such a small leg. My slicer was set on about as thin as it could go, but still, the leg wasn't huge. However, as you can see - I ended up with plenty to keep, and plenty to give away to a few friends.
Because the meat was so rich, a little goes a long way - a few slices on top of a nice salad with goats cheese & light citrus vinaigrette, or maybe paired with a perfect poached egg for that lovely yolky silkiness. Perfection.
I'll definitely be doing this one again.