Wild Game: Prep a Boar Ham for Curing and Smoking

Massage the gelatin into the meat to activate.
Here's a step-by-step guide to wet curing wild ham and prepping for smoking.
Begin by removing the leg bone and shank bone.
Trim away silver skin, fibrous tendons, and connective tissues. Trimming fibrous and connective tissues is an ongoing task with wild game, but it really improves flavor and texture.
Once you have cleaned the meat to your liking, butterfly the ham.
Make several shallow knife cuts across the meat to open up the flesh.
Sprinkle 2-2.5 teaspoons of Knox Unflavored Gelatin evenly across the surface of the meat, The gelatin—essentially made from powdered domesticated pig bones—acts as a binding agent. This is a bit of an industry secret, but it’s how a boneless ham maintains its shape.
Roll up the butterflied ham and shape into a football. Remove any remaining silver skin, or connective tissue on the outside.
Use a 60-thread cheese cloth to cover, and work down to the bottom like a sack twisting the excess.
Using a combination of gently pound and rolling with light pressure, pack the ham firmly into the cheese cloth forming a tight ball.
Tie off with a butcher twine or cotton string. A surgeon’s half-knot works well, but any secure knot will be fine.
Now we are ready to create our brine bath and inject the ham.
For this brine, we used a juniper-infused brine. It's a fitting recipe, since this particular hog took to hiding in cedar and juniper thickets. Here's what you'll need for 1 gallon of the brine, which works well for about a 5 pound boneless wild boar ham. Peppercorns
Bay leaves
Juniper berries
Brown sugar
Sodium Nitrite #1
Kosher salt
Whole cloves
1 gallon cold water (4 quarts)
Pour 2 to 2.5 cups of water into a saucepan to make the herbal infusion (it's basically tea) that will flavor the brine.
Add ¾ cup kosher salt to the saucepan.
Next, add 1 cup of loosely packed brown sugar.
Follow up by adding 1 heaping tablespoon of juniper berries. Again, a nod to the juniper trees that are part of wild boar habitat in Texas.
Add to the mixture 1 heaping tablespoon of peppercorns, 3-4 whole cloves
3 bay leaves, and 1 tablespoon of honey. Heat the tea to a boil and then simmer 5-10 minutes.
While the infusion is simmering, add 1 tablespoon of pink sodium nitrite #1 to the reserved water. Nitrite makes meat less prone to bacteria and enhances color. Nitrite #1 is for fast release and short cure times. It is used in brining, smoking, and canning. Nitrite #2 is slow release and suited for dry cured meats like salami, prosciutto, etc, that require aging.
Remove the tea from the stove and pour into the reserved water
Draw up the brine with the brining syringe.
Inject about 10 percent of the weight of the ham with the brining solution. So for example, if you have a 10-pound ham, inject 1 pound of solution. For a small 4 to 4.5 pound ham like this, inject in 3 to 4 different places. Bigger hams will require more injection spots.
After injection, drop the whole ham in the solution.
Since we are wet curing the ham, and have extra room in the container, we add a wild boar loin.
Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours. Once the wet cure is complete, both the ham and the loin will be ready for the smoker

For instructions on how to butcher a wild hog and isolate the ham, click here. To read the story behind the hunt for this Texas hog, click here.