Food & Drink

How to Make Wild Hog Country Ham

Curing your own wild-hog ham is a lesson in patience, with a stunning reward

Photo: Johnny autry | Food Styling by Charlotte Autry

The taste of wild game “is incomparable,” David Bancroft says. “You can put any label on any cut of meat—free-range, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, stress-free, pasture-raised—and it will never give you what a truly wild animal does.” And for a hunter, there are qualities that go beyond labels. “What I like most,” Bancroft says, “are the added notes of responsibility and self-sufficiency.”

An avid hunter and gardener, Bancroft opened his lauded Acre in downtown Auburn, Alabama, in 2013, and his barbecue restaurant, Bow & Arrow, in 2018. He’s a charcuterie aficionado, and Acre partners with the Auburn University Lambert-Powell Meats Laboratory to fine-tune humanely raised and artfully butchered meats. This cured wild-hog ham is a labor of love. From start to finish, the process will take months, and it will be complete when it is complete. “The ham is ready when it has lost a third of its weight,” Bancroft explains, and how long that takes is a function of the environment in which it is hung. “It’s a very accurate way of measuring,” he says, “but it stinks when it comes to the patience game.”

If you want to try curing your own ham, Bancroft suggests you first find the right frame of mind. To help while away the time, he tries to “step into character and tap into the artistry and appreciation of our ancestors who approached these animals in this way. There’s a sense of intentionality about curing a ham.” Revel in the process, he advises, and you won’t rush the final product.


  • Wild Hog Country Ham (Yield: 1 whole ham)

    • 1 (15 to 20 lb.) wild-boar ham, skin on (hoof optional)

    • 1 cup bourbon

  • For the cure:

    • Sea salt: Multiply ham weight in grams by 0.04

    • Instacure #2 curing salt: Multiply by 0.0025

    • Fresh-ground black pepper: Multiply by 0.003

    • Brown sugar: Multiply by 0.01


  1. Scald and scrape the ham.

  2. Weigh ham in grams. Write down or document the starting weight. Using the preceding formulas, combine all cure ingredients in a medium bowl.

  3. Rinse ham in bourbon and baste with bourbon several times.

  4. Pack the cure into every crevice, using every bit of cure. Add a little additional sea salt around the hoof and ball joint if using a hoofed ham.

  5. Store in refrigerator skin side down 2 days for every pound. After 10 days, scoop up cure that has fallen off ham and reapply to top of ham.

  6. After cure process, rinse cure off ham with running water. Place in smokehouse or smoker and cold-smoke 6 to 10 hours at no more than 75ºF.

  7. Hang ham in a cool, dark place to dry age between 40ºF and 60ºF at around 50 percent relative humidity. Dry age until ham weight reduces by 33 percent of original weight. Bancroft likes to let it age for another couple of months for even more intense flavor.