Kentucky Lamb Hams – Not B-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-d!

Two big, salty hams.
One big salty ham poses next to another big, salty ham. The ham on the left is pork. The ham on the right is Chef Barry.

Ham. The very word brings to mind the many variations of the savory pork product. In the vast majority of cases, when folks say “ham,” they mean pork. Recently however I was talking with my friend Valerie Samutin about her lambs on Freedom Run Farm and she told me about the history of lamb ham in Kentucky. Apparently in colonial times, lamb was the protein of choice for the settlers in Kentucky. In order to preserve their lamb for winter consumption, they would cure hind quarters just like we do with pork.

I love to fuse historical traditions with new technologies. Our commonwealth was well-known as a core market for sheep and lamb production. Remnants of that heritage can still be found in central Kentucky, where dishes such as the mutton-based Burgoo remain very popular. I decided to use Freedom Run Farm’s wonderful lamb to test the hot smoking abilities of our new smoker box in a CVap holding cabinet. CVap Hot Smoked Lamb Ham!

lamb ham collage

Ingredients

  • 50g Prague powder (cure) No. 2
  • 80g KY Spice Berries (substitute fresh ground peppercorns if spice berries aren’t available)
  • 500g light brown sugar or turbinado sugar
  • 700g pure sea salt (iodine free)
  • 4-6kg fresh lamb leg, bone in and hoof on
  • Sugna:1kg olive oil mixed with flour to make a thick paste ***optional
  • (You need 80g cure for each 1kg of lamb leg) Approximately 300- 500 grams of cure per leg

Procedure

    1. Very Important! Weigh lamb leg and record weight! Record day and time of curing start as well and keep for your records!
    2. Make curing mixture with the first four ingredients above. Mix thoroughly.
    3. Rinse lamb leg thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel. Then rub the lamb with the cure. Don’t worry about using too much. Rub firmly, pushing the leg bone with your thumbs. There is a main artery there that may not have been thoroughly bled. This process will help work out any remain blood. Once this is complete make sure you rub more cure around the aitch (hip) bone. This is the exposed bone/joint where the leg was severed from the lamb’s torso (VERY important step.)

raw legs and hams
raw hams
washed ham

    1. Place leg of lamb on a bed of salt in a nonreactive container, preferably plastic, or old school on a wooden rack. In this case I used nonreactive plastic seeding trays. Place lamb in a refrigerated environment for a minimum of ten days. Turn daily and make sure that cure is redistributed daily. If necessary add more cure. General rule of thumb for curing is one day per kilogram, but no less than ten days.

Salted hams
Fit to be tied
first salt
closeup salty
salty in cvap

    1. After the curing period is complete, rinse lamb and place in refrigerator for 24 hours. This allows for good pellicle formation. Pellicle is a skin or coating of proteins on the surface of meats that allows for smoke to adhere during the smoking process.
    2. After the 24 hour refrigeration, place lamb hams in a CVap holding cabinet at 165°F food temp and +5 on food texture. Place hickory chunks in Winston smoker box and set timer for three hours. Once cabinet is preheated, place lamb into CVap and hot smoke until internal temperature reaches 155°F. This takes approximately three hours. [Note: Although CVap equipment doesn’t usually require vent hoods, the addition of a smoker box will usually require utilization of a vent hood. Always check local codes.)
    3. After lamb reaches 155°F, remove from CVap cabinet, weigh, and record weight. At this time, some folks like to add a Sugna (a mixture of fat and flour) on the cut surface of the ham. This is classically done with prosciutto, iberico, or Appalachian mountain hams to keep the cut surface from excessively drying. In this case, I don’t believe that it is necessary, as lamb takes less time to cure and reach maturity than a traditional leg of pork. Keep in a refrigerated environment until the lamb leg has lost 25-30 % of its original weight. Once this weight loss has been achieved, your lamb ham should be ready.

strung up smoked hams

  1. Lamb preserved this way should be shelf stable for up to six months. There is no need to age longer, because hot smoking kills the enzymes that would generate any further flavor complexities. Once the ham has been cut, wrap cut surface with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Another option is to bone the ham and vacuum seal individual piece that can be cut later.

smoked ham lambs
ham in hand
Bob Perry carving lamb ham.

In this case we sampled to a lot of chef friends, and also shared with Bob Perry at his 3rd annual Kentucky Neurogastronomy Symposium held at the University of Kentucky.

Fried Chicken and Steamed Rice Held in CVap Stay So Nice!

Uncle Jack Fried Chicken is a Malaysian restaurant chain that uses our Collectramatic pressure fryers to cook fried chicken. Ordinarily they placed the finished chicken in a display warmer for serving. To maximize holding time, they limited the warmer to 35°C (95°F), putting a limit on the amount of time they could hold cooked chicken before it was no longer fit to sell. We suggested they test our CVap holding cabinet, in the hopes of extending their holding time and improving food quality. The test results were exciting!

Holding Cabinet Preparation: The CVap Holding Cabinet was set at food temperature 54°C (129°F) and food texture at + 28°C (82°F). The evaporator was filled with hot water, and the cabinet was allowed to preheat for 45 minutes, to reach full temperature.

12:05pm: Chicken was cooked and removed from the fryer, and put into holding cabinet (15 pieces). Initial taste of chicken: crispy outside, moist inside and meat is very hot to touch and taste.

Chicken fresh from fryer

12:10pm: Cooked rice (wrapped in oil paper) is put into the same holding cabinets with fried chicken. Initial taste of rice: moist, sticky, and fragrant.

Uncle Jack Rice after one hour in CVap holding cabinet

13:05pm: (holding 60 minutes)

Chicken was still crispy outside (though very slightly less crisp than when first removed from fryer), moist inside, still hot, and color had not changed. The chicken breading remained crisp.

13:35pm (holding for 90 minutes)

Chicken was still crispy and moist. Color was good. Food retained flavor, with minimal loss of freshness.

Fried chicken after 90 mins in CVap

13:55pm (holding for 2 hours)
The skin remained crispy, though not as crisp as when it was initially fried. Flavor and moisture were still good. Color had not darkened.
Fried chicken after two hours in CVap

14:00pm (rice held for 2 hours)

Rice was hot and tasted fresh; not dried out at all.
Rice held two hours in CVap holding cabinet

15:35pm (3.5 hour holding time)
Chicken tasted good, skin remained crispy, meat was moist. Although the chicken was not “just cooked” fresh after 3.5 hours, it was still at safe temperature, and appetizing enough to serve.

15:40pm (after holding for 3.5 hours)
Rice was hot, and texture was good.

These photos, taken at different times over the course of testing, give you an idea of the appearance of the food.

Fried Chicken

Uncle Jack's Fried ChickenFried chicken after 3.5 hours in CVap

Rice
Rice held two hours in a CVap holding cabinet

Electricity Consumption: 800 watts

Holding Capacity per Cabinet: 13 full size sheet pans, each rack equals one basket (4 heads) chicken, or 338 pieces

CVap Holding Cabinet Test Conclusions

Goals for Future Testing

  1. Extending the holding time for the chicken without compromising the texture, taste, and food safety.
  2. Testing other products, (wrapped rice was incorporated).
  3. Improving staff work flow.
  4. Staff can pre-prepare chicken during lean hours in preparation for peak hours, thus shortening the waiting time while producing the best tasting fried chicken.
  5. During lean hours, customers can still savor the taste of freshly fried chicken from the holding cabinet.
  6. Minimize food shrinkage.
  7. Minimlize food waste.
  8. Extension of holding times for other foods is possible, since CVap cabinets are versatile enough to hold both crispy and moist foods.

One Final Note – CVap Technology is great, but it’s not magic.

The very nature of fried foods (crisp outside with moist interior) promotes evaporation. CVap technology is the best available to maximize holding time, but even CVap, using the necessary high differential setting (the difference of food texture setting over the food temperature setting) will eventually lose the battle to maintain food temp and freshness. It’ll hold fresh longer than the competitors, but if the food is crunchy (fried chicken, French fries, etc), it can only be held for so long.

On the other hand, moist foods, such as rice or noodles, are perfect for CVap, and can be held for many hours with no loss of temperature or quality.

The consensus of the Uncle Jack test was that it was possible to lengthen the holding time for chicken. More testing would be needed to perfect the texture, taste and crispiness, to come up with the Uncle Jack Standard Operating Procedure.

The 2018 Winston Equipment Award Grant Applications Begin December 1, 2017!

Mark your calendar! Your opportunity to apply for the 2018 Winston Equipment Award is December 1, 2017!

The award provides ten pieces of Winston Foodservice equipment to a school district in need of improving its school meal kitchen facilities through a competitive grant process.
The winning school district can choose any ten pieces from Winston’s product line of CVap Holding Cabinets, CVap Hold & Serve Drawers, and CVap Retherm Ovens.

Winston works closely with the grant winner to determine needs and assist in the final selection of equipment. Winston also arranges delivery of the equipment to the district. Depending on which models are ordered, it could mean over $50,000 in new equipment for your district!

To apply, you must:

  • Be an active SNA director-level member, who has been a member of SNA for at least one year.
  • Be the person responsible for directing the school nutrition program for the school district.

How can I apply?

The School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) will open the 2018 Winston Equipment Award application process on December 1st, 2017. The deadline for the application is January 15th, or once the first 75 applications have been received (whichever comes first). The application spots usually fill up quickly, so don’t delay in applying!
CVap equipment
Want to hit the ground running? Prepare your application ahead of time by downloading the Application Preparation Worksheet. Responses may be copied and pasted from the worksheet into the online application. Visit https://www.schoolnutrition.org/equipmentgrants to learn more.

Best of luck to all of you!

Winston Announces Award of Equipment to White Bear Lake Area Schools

Winston Foodservice has awarded its annual Winston Equipment Grant Award to the White Bear Lake Area Schools in Minnesota. This annual grant program was established in partnership with the School Nutrition Foundation (SNF) to help deserving schools serve hot, nutritious meals to their students.

Grant winners may choose any ten pieces of Winston’s CVap® equipment, WBL Area Schools selected ten CVap holding cabinets (models HMA018 and HA4522).

Bridget Lehn, SNS
Bridget Lehn, SNS

The schools’ Student Nutrition Services Director, Bridget Lehn, is frank about the challenges her district faces, and making do with aging equipment, but optimistic about the effect new cabinets will have. “New equipment will increase meal participation due to the improved quality of food. Our current warmers are either scorching food or not keeping it warm enough. Some of the warmers are adding excess moisture or drying out product, all due to inconsistent heating or lack of insulation. Word of mouth moves quickly; the kids are very intuitive and will notice the improved food. When they tell their friends, participation goes up.”

About White Bear Lake Area Schools
The White Bear Lake Area School District serves all or parts of Birchwood, Gem Lake, Hugo, Lino Lakes, Little Canada, Maplewood, North Oaks, Vadnais Heights, White Bear Lake and White Bear Township, with four Early Childhood program locations (birth-K), nine elementary schools (K-5), two middle schools (6-8), a two-campus high school (9-12), an Area Learning Center and a Transition Education Center. The school district, with a total population of approximately 63,000 residents, serves nearly 9,000 students PreK-12.

HA4522 Holding Cabinet

The CVap Holding Cabinet HA4522 combines large capacity with superior food temperature and texture control. Our most popular model, the 22 cu. ft (.66 cu. M) holding capacity is well suited for schools, hospitals, and any other high volume operation. Fourteen adjustable universal wire rack supports hold 14 sheet pans or 28 steam table pans. The A-Series electronic differential control precisely controls both food temperature and food texture. A built in fan provides precise and consistent temperature management. Sits on 3″ (76mm) casters for ease of mobility. A vital tool in any high-volume kitchen.

 

HA4022 Holding Cabinet

The CVap HA4022 Holding Cabinet gives you substantial capacity at a lower price than our flagship cabinets. Like other CVap holding cabinets, the HA4022 offers superior food temperature and texture control. At 22 cu. ft (.66 cu. M) holding capacity, it is well suited for schools, hospitals, and any other high volume operation. Fourteen adjustable universal wire rack supports hold 14 sheet pans or 28 steam table pans. The A-Series electronic differential control precisely controls both food temperature and food texture. Sits on 3″ (76mm) casters for ease of mobility.

 

HA4519 Holding Cabinet

The CVap Holding Cabinet HA4519 gives you 19 cu. ft (.57 cu. M) of holding space and superior food temperature and texture control. The HA4519 is ideal for schools, hospitals, and any other high volume operation. Fourteen adjustable universal wire rack supports hold 14 sheet pans. The A-Series electronic differential control precisely controls both food temperature and food texture. A built in fan provides precise and consistent temperature management. Sits on 3″ (76mm) casters for ease of mobility.

 

HMA018 Transport Holding Cabinet

The HMA018 is designed to easily transport food while keeping it hot and ready to serve. It features rugged 5″ casters, recessed handles, and an extended handle on the back to facilitate push-pull mobility. The A-Series electronic differential control precisely controls both food temperature and food texture. Ten adjustable universal rack supports hold a capacity of ten sheet pans or 20 steam table pans for maximum serving capability.

HA4511 Holding Cabinet

The CVap Holding Cabinet HA4511 is our largest half-size cabinet. The A-Series electronic differential control offers premium Controlled Vapor Technology with dual control over food temperature and food texture. Ideal for schools, QSRs, and any other high volume operation. Seven adjustable universal rack supports hold a capacity of seven sheet pans or 14 steam table pans. Built in fan provides for even distribution of vapor heat. Sits on 3″ (76mm) casters for ease of mobility.

HA4509 Holding Cabinet

The CVap Holding Cabinet HA4509 delivers superior food temperature and texture control. A half-size holding cabinet, it is ideal for schools, QSRs, and any other high volume operation with kitchen space constraints. This model has an A-Series electronic differential control, offering premium Controlled Vapor Technology with dual control over food temperature and food texture. Built-in fan provides for even distribution of heat. Five adjustable rack supports hold a capacity of five sheet pans or ten steam table pans. Sits on 3″ (76mm) casters for ease of mobility.

 

HA4507 Holding Cabinet

The CVap HA4507 Holding Cabinet HA4507 gives you 7 cu. ft. of holding space, while still fitting beneath a standard counter. The HA4507 is ideal for schools, QSRs, and any other high volume operation. This model has an A-Series electronic differential control offers superior food temperature and texture control. The four adjustable rack supports hold a capacity of four sheet pans or eight steam table pans. Sits on 3″ (76mm) casters for ease of mobility. Also available in stacked pair combinations: CAT509/HA4507, CA8509/HA4507 or CAT507/HA4507.

 

HA4503 Holding Cabinet

The CVap Holding Cabinet HA4503 delivers superior food temperature and texture control. At 3 cu. ft. (.09 cu. M) of space, it fits under standard counters, and is ideal for kiosks, bars, or anywhere that business volume is high but space is limited. The A-Series electronic differential control precisely controls both food temperature and food texture. Built-in fan evenly distributes the vapor heat, helping to ensure optimal food quality. Five adjustable rack supports hold five half sheet pans or four steam table pans. Sits on 1″ (25mm) wheels to easily fit under counter.

 

HA4005 Holding Cabinet

The CVap Holding Cabinet HA4005 is a unique size to give you a generous amount of holding capacity in a very small footprint. It is narrow but tall, giving you five cubic feet of holding space. The HA4005 is ideal for kiosks, bars, and anywhere that space is limited. This model has an A-Series electronic differential control, a prime feature of CVap technology as it precisely controls both food temperature and food texture. The eight adjustable rack supports hold a capacity of eight half sheet pans or eight steam table pans. Sits on 3″ (76mm) casters for ease of mobility.

 

HA4003 Holding Cabinet

The CVap HA4003 Holding Cabinet puts the power of CVap technology to work in a very small package. It delivers superior food temperature and texture control. The HA4003 is ideal for kiosks, bars, and anywhere space is limited. This model has an A-Series electronic differential control, a prime feature of CVap technology as it precisely controls both food temperature and food texture. The five adjustable universal rack supports hold five half steam table pans or four steam table pans. Sits on 1″ (25mm) wheels to easily fit under counter.

 

HL4522-SS Low Power Holding Cabinet

The CVap Holding Cabinet HL4522-SS gives you superior quality and holding capacity, and operates on a 15-amp circuit (US). Ideal for large operations, this full-size cabinet offers 22 cu. ft (.66 cu. M) of space and 14 adjustable universal wire rack supports that hold 14 sheet pans or 28 steam table pans. This model has an A-Series electronic differential control, a prime feature of CVap technology as it precisely controls both food temperature and food texture. Built in fan keeps food holding temperatures consistent. Stainless steel exterior. Sits on 3″ (76mm) casters for ease of mobility.

 

HL4522-AL Low Power Aluminum Holding Cabinet

The CVap Holding Cabinet HL4522-AL gives you superior food temperature and texture control at a lower price. Featuring a tough aluminum exterior, the HL4522-AL is our most affordable full-size holding cabinet with a fan, and can operate on a 15-amp circuit (US). Fourteen adjustable universal wire rack supports hold a capacity of 14 sheet pans or 28 steam table pans. This model has an A-Series electronic differential control, a prime feature of CVap technology as it precisely controls both food temperature and food texture. Sits on 3″ (76mm) casters for ease of mobility.

 

HL4022-AL Low Power Aluminum Holding Cabinet

The CVap Holding Cabinet HL4022-AL gives you superior food temperature and texture control at a lower price. Featuring a tough aluminum exterior, the HL4022-AL is the most affordable full-size holding cabinet we offer, and can operate on a 15-amp circuit (US). Fourteen adjustable universal wire rack supports hold a capacity of 14 sheet pans or 28 steam table pans. This model has an A-Series electronic differential control, a prime feature of CVap technology as it precisely controls both food temperature and food texture. Sits on 3″ (76mm) casters for ease of mobility.