Green eggs and ham? Not really, but it does take time to make lovely marbled preserved eggs and brining fresh ham. Marbling eggs is a lovely tradition for a Seder plate, and for Easter, as the egg itself is gorgeously colored and infused with flavor. I am so grateful to have finally found a foolproof, almost, way to hard-boil freshly laid eggs, which all chicken owners know, is a pain. When you hard boil the eggs, place them in cold water and add about 1/4 cup or so of salt to a big pot of water. I am cheap with my specialty sea salts so I use our Redmond pure livestock salt for this, which is about $5 for a 50 pound bag. Bring to a boil and then down to a simmer for ten minutes and plunge in cold water. You do still have to be patient when peeling, or you will get a few nicks, but for the most part, the shells will come off cleanly.
To make marbled eggs, I used to collect the skins of brown and red onions and cook the eggs in water with the onion skins, salt and some apple cider vinegar. After they have simmered in a big cast iron pan for a few hours, then I would lightly crack the shells and simmer for another ten or so hours and you get an incredible marbled egg. This year I am trying something new. When the eggs are hard-boiled, lightly crack the shells all over, but do not peel.
Place the hard-boiled eggs into half gallon mason jars and fill to about 3/4 of the rim. Per each jar peel two red beets and dice into small pieces, three heaping tablespoons of turmeric, one heaping tablespoon good sea salt, garlic, hot peppers or Master Tonic, and about 1/4 cup of Apple Cider vinegar. Fill the rest of the jar with filtered water and put on the lid.
The turmeric will settle out to the bottom of the jar, so you need to gently shake the jar several times a day. Keep refrigerated for up to a month. Peel eggs when ready to use and the color and flavors will deepen as time goes on. This egg has been in the brine for three days. If the color is not pronounced enough by this Easter Sunday, I will put everything in a pan and simmer for a few hours. Serve with delicious maror and homemade raw sour cream.
Today I also placed a fresh ham from one of our American Guinea hogs, which weighed ten and 1/2 pounds, into brine for three days until it will be baked on Sunday. Thaw the frozen ham in the refrigerator for about three days. Instead of water for the base of the brine, I used two gallons of a batch of kombucha which had gotten too sour. I don’t always keep up with my kombucha during the winter, but even when it gets too sour it has lots of uses.
Place fresh ham in a pot large enough that the ham can be totally submerged.
The brine consists of:
two gallons sour kombucha
two cups sea salt
two cups raw honey
two heads garlic
half head celery
The sea salt I used was very coarse and the honey had crystallized so I gently heated these in some kombucha for them to dissolve well, then added everything else. Cover and place in refrigerator for three days, stirring well a few times a day to incorporate everything.
After three days I will make a reduction of the brine to thicken it and make a base for a barbecue sauce and use part for a honey mustard rosemary glaze for the ham. (This time I had better not burn it like I did with my bacon brine.)
Happy Easter everyone!