Liven Up the Dinner Table With Homemade Ham

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Home-cooked ham slices with vegetables and millet

Want to try a fancy dish outdoors? Food coordinator and outdoor chef Nahoko Minakuchi recommends home-cooked ham in a Dutch oven for a dish that will surely liven up the dinner table once the lid is lifted.

The sound of homemade ham is appealing, too. “It’s good not only for outdoor cooking but also as a potluck item,” Minakuchi said.

She recommends choosing a loin part closer to the back than the shoulder as the fat and meat there neatly form layers, which gives the finished ham a nice appearance.

Minakuchi rubbed salt and sugar into the meat and let it rest overnight. The salt seasons the meat, while the sugar tenderizes it and increases its umami. She used a Dutch oven, which is perfect for cooking meat as it maintains heat very well.

She placed a grill rack inside the pot and poured water in for boiling. She then placed an oven dish on top of the rack, spread parchment paper over the dish, and placed the meat and vegetables on top of that. She also covered the pork loin with the paper for steaming.

“Use a grill rack with legs to keep the dish above the water. For a flat rack, roll up pieces of aluminum foil and place them on the bottom of the pot to serve as legs,” Minakuchi said.

The Dutch oven is then left to steam. Although there’s not much water in the pot, watch out to keep it from boiling over. The meat is wrapped so it won’t burn. After 40 minutes, she pricks the pork with a skewer to see if it’s cooked. It’s ready if red juices do not ooze out. The steamed ham looks tantalizingly glossy.

Leave it for a while to “let it cool down enough to lock in the juice,” she said. Once cooled, slice and serve with steamed vegetables, millet and beans to add some color to the dish. The ham tastes better when left overnight as its saltiness will become mild.

A thick slice of the ham is moist, and its fat is soft and not greasy. The vegetables are sweet, and millet and beans have a crunchy texture.

Soup made with drippings

To make “leftover soup,” put a cup of water, drippings left in the parchment paper, steamed vegetables, millet and beans into a pot and bring to a light boil. The soup is seasoned with salt and pepper before one beaten egg is poured in.

“Adjust the amount of water depending on the thickness of the juice,” Minakuchi said. “You can add chopped ham if you like.”

The meat, vegetables, millet and beans all contribute their own flavor to this dish.

Home-cooked ham

Ingredients (for one 20 centimeter-diameter Dutch oven):

  • 500-gram block of pork loin
  • 10 grams salt (2% of meat weight)
  • 5 grams sugar (1% of meat weight)
  • 1/2 celery stalk
  • 1/4 carrot
  • 40 grams dry millet, bean mixture

  • Directions:

    1. Mix salt and sugar and rub them well over meat. Put meat into a plastic or ziplock, remove air from the bag and refrigerate overnight.

    2. Chop celery and carrot.

    3. Take the pork out from the fridge. Layer two sheets of parchment paper on a slightly deep oven dish. Place millets and beans in the bakeware and pork on top. Cover the pork gently with the paper.

    4. Place grill rack in Dutch oven, fill it with water slightly below the rack and heat. When water comes to a boil, place the oven dish on the rack.

    5. Steam, covered, for about 40 minutes while watching so that the pot does not boil over. Prick the meat with a skewer to check if the pork is cooked thoroughly. The pork is ready if the juice is clear. Steam further if red.

    The Yomiuri Shimbun
    Prick the meat with a skewer to check if the pork is cooked thoroughly.

    6. After cooling, slice the meat and serve on a plate with celery, carrots, millet and beans.