Cooking technique for a country ham?
Last fall I bought a country ham that I thought was the best I’d run across. A slightly more delicate flavor than, e.g., Harper’s, Mar-Tenn, or Miller’s, it was fromTripp Country Hams in Brownsville, TN. Purely coincentally, I once lived there–but don’t remember it. The instructions said not to age it further, but I hung it in my garage and it didn’t eem to hurt it. (There was a fair amount of mold and some dry places on the exterior, but you expect that with a country ham.
Allan Benton’s practice of frying slices of ham in cola, described above, does tend to tame down the saltiness a bit.
Every now and then I get the urge to buy a ham. My wife doesn’t like the stuff, so it’s usually me to eat it (And old joke: What lasts longer, a yuppie marriage or a country ham in the refrigerator for two?).
Anyway, I put the thing in the fridge and whack pieces off as necessary. Salty, yes. Thin slices for sanwiches and bisquits. Diced fine for scrambled eggs. Chunks for something like a pot of cabbage and onions. And so on. And yes, salty. I tried parboiling to get off some of the salt, but the meat gets tough and assumes a nasty consistency. Never tried baking a whole ham.
I usually toss the thing when my wife looks in the fridge and says, "Is this thing still in here?" By that time, I’m tired of it, too. Then, a few months later, the urge hits. The smoked kind is my favorite.
It is complicated, Paul. If it’s for me, or when I prepared it for my Mom and Dad…….I did as little as possible…….just soak for awhile. When I do it that way, it’s for country ham’s introduction to city -slickers, who don’t appreciate the goodness of bare bones country ham.[;)]
Redtressed: For some reason that sounds awfully complicated to me. My grandfather who killed hogs each Thanksgiving while he was alive did about a dozen cured hams annually. They sliced them and fried them each morning of his life. They did not put much effort into preparation and it was always a very tame taste with no salt.
I have read several post and most seem to indicate that you have to soak them and scrub them, but he never did and it was tender, tasty and never salty.
Paul E. Smith
The way I do a country ham is fairly involved but ends up in good results. First, I soak the ham for a couple of hours woth Coca Cola. Then I scrub , scrub, scrub with a wire brush until mold is easily removed. After all the mold is gone I place it in a large roasting pan and cover with milk and soak for approx 24 hours. I then drain and rinse the ham and place it in a large stock pot in the stove and combine Coca cola and a bottle of cheap bourbon and simmer for about 10 hours. THEN I take out and remove the rind and do a dry rub of brown sugar, a smidgen of ground cloves, cardamom and cinnamon. I toss this back into the large roaster and add a couple cups of the coke /bourbon/ham liquid to the bottom of the pan and roast it about an hour at 300 degrees or until it has a browned crust on it. Remove from oven, let cool 20 mins and serve thinly sliced. Reserve a cup or so of the ham/coke/bourbon liquid to include in gravy…..mmmmmmmmmm
Paul and others:
I highly recommend Allan Benton’s prosciutto. I can eat it by the handful. He’ll ship anywhere UPS delivers. The prosciutto runs about $12 a pound.
Fred: Thanks for sharing the Benton story with us. I have passed it many times but never bothered to stop. I also saved your earlier written stories on "My favorite"
My grandfather who is now many years deceased use to kill hogs every year at Thanksgiving and would cure about a dozen hams annually. He thought that no day was complete with out ham and red eye gravy for breakfast.
They always cooked fresh pork chops on that day, ground sausage and generally rendered lard. I always loved the cracklins. The remainder of the day was spent canning pork.
Paul E. Smith
I’ve baked, boiled, and fried. My source for country ham in East Tennessee advocates frying, and his method is described in the column below:
That IS expensive water…
(Also to Michael.) Oh, I knew it wasn’t a country ham–this old Tennessee boy can tell–, but I wasn’t looking for one. I did assume Smithfield was the VA version, though, thinking the name was copyrighted. Michael’s explanation answers a lot. I’ll inviestigate some more. The main thing was the blasted water content!
If I’m not mistaken what you bought was a ham from the Smithfield Packing Co. in North Carolina. This company makes lots of different pork products, including bacon and lunch meat. I don’t know how they get away with calling their hams Smithfield hams because by law only hams from Smithfield, Virginia are allowed to be called Smithfield hams. Some producers of ham get away with it by calling their product Smithfield-style hams.
There is no such thing as a real country ham in a plastic bag, unless you are talking about slices of country ham. This is salt-cured meat people, that has been air-drying for at least a year if it’s done right. Why on earth would it need to be sealed in plastic? I have seen plenty of hams of the type you describe sold in supermarkets under a Smithfield brand — this is not the same thing at all…
I just bought & cooked a Smithfield ham. It was okay, but most emphatically not a country ham. It was simply an uncooked ham in a plastic bag.And the **** thing was 23% added liquid! [:(!] That made the price go from about $20 to about $26. Ab-freakin’-surd!
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