CHRISTMAS HAM Á LA WILD MAN OF THE WEST
1. First you borrow a car from a secluded parking lot. I wouldn’t advice on using your own car, because the transportation of the ham can be messy business. A pig that’s covered in blood and filth will leave a nasty stain on the back seat. You can of course cover the seats with plastic, but my way is easier. A SUV with four wheel drive is a handy choice of a car, because you minimize the risk of getting stuck in snow. 2. You should set out at night when there isn’t much traffic. It’s advisable to check out the pick up place of the pig beforehand in the fall. Look for a place that’s near the road. / It would be ideal if there were a slope between the road and the farm to help you approach the place unseen.
1. As you reach your destination make sure that there’s nobody about and that both the pig house and rest of the farm have lights out. / The biggest pig is a poor choice. Remember that you’ll have to carry the carcass to the car. A sled can come in handy at this point. / You should also keep in mind that the pig house stinks. Refrain from commenting the stench out loud. The smell is likely to cling to your clothes so it’s better to leave your favourite gear at home.
1. The pig should be put to death with a knife. A firearm makes too much noise. Butcher’s gloves are recommended for a beginner. The pig can put up quite a struggle, so there’s always the possibility of cutting yourself in the hand. Metal gloves can be freezing in the wintertime, so wear woolen gloves with them.
1. Many farmers also own forest land, so you can get yourself a Christmas tree on the same trip. It too should be checked out in advance. My advice is to cut down the tree with a small handsaw before going to collect the ham. This way the tree is ready and waiting when you are leaving the farm. 2. A forest-grown spruce is a whole different matter than those fluffy cultured Christmas trees! In Finland the model for the Christmas tree was taken from Donald Duck comics of the 50’s and from Christmas parade and that Disney Christmas special, in which Pluto chases after those little squirrels and Mickey gets mad when he sees the mess. / I can’t stand that goddamn mutt!
1. When you have managed to get the lifeless pig back to your place, you get rid of the car. You burn it either by the edge of the forest or at a parking lot. / After the blood is drained, you cut an eight kilo piece from the pig. That’s the biggest slab of meat you can fit in our oven.
1. For the first hour you cook the meat in 200 degrees and after that in a little over a hundred. When the meat cooking thermometer shows that the inside temperature of the ham is 77 to 80 degrees, then the meat is well done. If blood or other red fluid comes out as you take out the thermometer, then the meat is still rare. The fluid is supposed to be clear. / After eight hours in the oven, when the meat is well done, the skin is peeled off. Then you spread mustard all over the ham, cover it with breadcrumbs and stick it full of cloves.
1. Finally you put the meat back into the 250 degree oven and leave it there till the crumbs form a crisp brown crust. 2. Hmm… / Sure is good!