Monday, February 1, 2016

Smoked Ham with Toasted Mustard Seed and Pineapple Glaze

When we moved to Costa Rica almost 3 years ago we knew that we wanted to build a smokehouse and smoke great meat. We have since launched Carne Rico Jerky offering 100% grass-fed beef jerky smoked with coffee firewood and made without nitrites/nitrates or gluten. We are also offering smoked hams by the whole, half or quarter and with the option of bone-in or bone-out. 

We are still in the beginning phase of our ham project because of the lengthy time it takes to brine hams. Our hams brine for a minimum of 7 days in a salt / sugar brine. This also requires much refrigerator space so until we are fully equipped, we only offer our hams by phone or email orders through our Facebook page or website. Our hams are 6,000 colones per kilo. The 1/4 size ham is typically between 2-3 kilos. The 1/2 size is typically between 4-6 kilos and a whole ham can be upwards of 15 kilos. After we inject and brine the ham for 1 week, we smoke it at a low temperature for several hours with coffee firewood from the cafétal that we live on in San Isidro de Grecia. We return all our ashes back to the cafétal when we finish smoking all of our meats, kind of our way of recycling. The coffee trees are trimmed twice a year so we constantly have a sustainable firewood to smoke with and the smoke is a clean flavor, not overwhelming. Leña de café is a hardwood, preferable for smoking meat. We actually need a macheté or a chainsaw it is so hard. An old fashioned ax does not do the trick. 

Our kids love when it is time to load up on coffee wood, or at least they love loading up on the tractor. The coffee trees are also pesticide free. The only ingredient used is potassium powder once per year and according to the owner of the cafétal, it helps keep snakes and rodents away. While it is a chemical it is a very natural alternative to many of the harsh chemicals used on big manufactured GMO fields in the states. No pesticides inside of the grains here. While opening Carne Rico (Good Meat) we have become experts on how the ranchers and farmers run their businesses in Costa Rica. All our beef is 100% grass-fed and the pigs are free-range. The slaughter house that we purchase our meat from actually sends out a team of specialists to check on the well being of the animals during their maturity. They also check for living quality and how they are growing in their natural setting. There are no GMO grains imported to feed them and there are no pesticides sprayed on the fields. The meat is of the highest quality so that when we cook it and feed it to our families, they are getting the best natural form of protein. When the animal has a variety of grazing the meat has a higher protein content, free of steroids and pesticides residuals. We have learned so much about the way small farming should be. We actually feel more in the "country" now that we are here. It is great when we think about how we left our country town in Texas and moved to the mountains of Costa Rica and our kids see more horses and ride more tractors now that we are here. Who knew? We even see cows and horses strolling down the street alone, trimming the high grass in front of the neighbors' homes. 

Pura Vida! 

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