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Christmas Curing and Smoking

The magic of Christmas meets the alchemy of curing and smoking on our wonderfully festive one-day course.

Whether you are interested in exploring this world for small Christmas rewards or to embrace bigger projects, our one-day course in curing and smoking will give you all the knowledge and confidence you need. Learn how to transform ingredients through the processes and techniques of curing and smoking, prolonging their versatility and creating incredible festive flavours.

Our course tutor, Steven Lamb, author of the acclaimed River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook, will lead this intensive day covering basic skills and key techniques with a wide range of ingredients. He will share his knowledge and encourage hands on experience in dry curing, brining, fermentation and hot and cold smoking, using both professional kit and inventive homemade versions.

The day begins with an introduction to curing and smoking, the emphasis being on the use and qualities of salt. Taking the middle of an organic pig, you will tackle traditional dry curing, creating pancetta-style streaky and back bacon, before moving on to the leg joint to create air dried ham and a Christmas inspired pork and orange zest salami. Next we will look at brining, a traditionally festive approach to turkey and gammon as well as embracing brisket or fore-flank of beef to make a memorable salt beef. After a delicious seasonal lunch prepared by the River Cottage chefs, we will focus on hot and cold smoking, showing you how to build your own smoker at home. Your skill set will be complete with a fish prep and filleting lesson before smoking the results. Who wouldn’t like a little smoked trout for supper on Christmas Eve..?!

The fires will be lit and the cider may be mulling so come and join us at our cosy River Cottage HQ and get into the Christmas spirit.

Your day

09:30 - 17:00

  • Arrive at River Cottage

    You’ll be met at the top of the hill at 9.30am and transported to River Cottage HQ by tractor and trailer (approx. a 5 minute journey).

  • Make yourself at home

    You will meet your hosts and start the day with tea, coffee and treats fresh from the kitchen.

  • Practical session one

    Your lessons will begin with traditional dry curing. We’ll take the middle of an organic pig and show you how to transform it into pancetta-style streaky and back bacon.

  • Practical session two

    Next we’ll demonstrate how to prepare and salt a whole a leg of pork, for a prosciutto-style, air-dried ham and Christmassy pork and orange zest salami.

  • Practical session three

    We will also cover brine curing, including how to prepare the all-important turkey and glazed gammon for Christmas. And as an alternative to pork, we will explain how to brine cure a brisket or fore-flank of beef to make classic salt beef.

  • Lunch

    You’ll sit down to a lunch of local, seasonal produce, prepared by the River Cottage chefs. Naturally, the meal will feature cured and smoked stars such as salt beef or a festive River Cottage baked ham.

  • Practical session four

    The afternoon will focus on hot and cold smoking, and how to build your own smokers at home. You’ll learn how to fillet and prepare fish for smoking, as well as tasting some wonderfully smoked fish and meat for yourself – such as smoked trout, or hot smoked pork tenderloin.

  • Departure

    At the end of the day there will be time to chat to your fellow scholars and the River Cottage team, before being whisked back up the hill by our tractor and trailer at 5pm.

Please note: This is a guide to the activities that will make up your course at River Cottage. This is by no means set in stone and will depend on seasonal availability.

On occasion cookery schools will use equipment that includes induction hobs. It is recommended that people with pace makers should not work on these units. If you are concerned or would like to check whether or not induction hobs will be used on the course you are interested in, please call us on 01297 630302.

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Further information...

This course is run from River Cottage HQ on the Dorset/Devon borders. Full address details of HQ will be provided once you have booked.

We are a licensed venue. We have a wide selection of the finest organic wines available to purchase.

Stay in our famous Farmhouse, click here. For other local accommodation click here.

We would advise that this course is only really suitable for 12 years of age and upwards. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult. We put these guidelines in place for the safety, comfort and enjoyment of all our guests.

With many of our courses there are often treats and leftovers to take away with you. In our quest to be more sustainable we are encouraging guests to bring their own containers and bags to transport their produce home. Details of what is required for each course will be included in booking emails.

  • Sustainable Restaurant Association
  • Food and Travel Magazine 2017
  • Great British Food Awards 2017
  • Great British Food Awards 2018