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mocetta, or goat ham, on a plate

Mocetta, Italian Venison Ham

This is essentially a little prosciutto, without the skin. As such it will dry out faster and will be ready in far less time, even as little as three months. The longer you let it hang, the more humidity you will need to prevent the leg from becoming jerky. I aged mine four months and got a good balance of firmness, funkiness, color and flavor. As with any cured meat product, the meat matters: Use only hind legs from a young deer or antelope, or meat from small farmers who care about their product. And you need to use curing salt No. 2, which you can buy online. 

Course Cured Meat
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Serves 1 ham
Author Hank Shaw

Ingredients

  • 1 small hind leg of a deer, about 5 pounds
  • Instacure No. 2 (see above)
  • Kosher salt (see above)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 25 grams garlic powder
  • 10 grams juniper berries
  • 12 grams black pepper
  • 5 grams dried thyme
  • 12 grams fresh rosemary
  • 15 bay leaves

Instructions

  1. Grind the juniper berries, black pepper, thyme and bay leaves together until fine. Mince the rosemary. Combine all the spices with the salts and mix well. Divide this mixture in half. Put one part of the cure away in a sealed container.
  2. Carefully rub half the mixture into the goat legs, making sure to get lots into the ball joint that had connected the leg to the pelvis; this is where leg cuts often spoil. Massage the spices and salts into the meat.
  3. Put the legs into a large container and refrigerate for 2-3 weeks. Drain off any liquid that seeps out of the meat. You will know it’s about done when the meat has firmed up quite a bit.
  4. Rinse off the cure and pat the legs dry. Repeat Step 3 with the second half of the cure.
  5. Let the legs cure in the fridge for another 7-10 days. The longer you go, the saltier the meat will be — and the longer it will last without spoiling.
  6. When you are ready, rinse off the cure again and soak the legs in fresh water for an hour. This relieves a little of the saltiness and results in a moister cure — you needed to cure with so much salt for so long to make sure it penetrated all the way through to the bone. The water soak removes some of that salt so it won’t be overpowering when you ultimately serve the mocetta.
  7. Hang for 2-5 months. You want a temperature between 40 and 60°F (colder at the beginning, and warmer near the end), and a humidity starting at about 80 percent and slowly decreasing — say, 5 percent a week) until you are at about 60 percent humidity.
  8. Once it’s ready, you can cut the meat from the bone and slice thin, or slice bone-in. Serve at room temperature with cheese and a husky red wine. Wrap closely and store in the fridge, or seal it and freeze it.

Note that prep time does not include curing or drying time.