Your backsliding blogger stops in for one of her infrequent posts
January 26, 2013
Sigh. If blogging were a romantic relationship, I guess this thing and I would be headed for the rocks. But as my tens of readers are more faithful than most significant others — probably because we don’t have to pick up each other’s dirty clothes or dishes, or fight over the remote control — I’m hoping you’ll still be there with me. I do love you, and, if it helps, I feel guilty when I abandon you for two weeks at a time.
It’s just been…busy. And when I haven’t been busy, I haven’t been motivated. However, I do have the makings of a few different posts here, and I will attempt to put several of them together this weekend and dole them out to you over the next several days.
Let us begin with ham, one of the several reasons why we dearly love our friend, the pig. Specifically, let us begin with Broadbent Country Ham, one of the few good things, other than bourbon whiskey and my good friend Martha Boltz, to ever come out of Kentucky. These Broadbent people, they know how to cure some good country ham. Details here.
No less a personage than James Beard said of the Broadbent ham, “It was only lately, while in Kentucky, that I became acquainted with these superb hams. There’s a company called Broadbent-Bingham that sells cured and aged country hams. If you visit them, you can also buy extraordinarily good ham hocks, thick ham steaks and hams, all cured the same way. I carried back a cooked ham for Thanksgiving which was much admired by all who tasted it.”
I bought this country ham at a silent auction benefitting the Southern Economic Development Council’s scholarhship fund, back last August. It was, allegedly, one of a dozen which were handpicked and specially cured to produce Broadbent’s annual entry to the Kentucky State Fair. Another one gets auctioned for charity, in one noteworthy year bringing $1.6 million. Allegedly, mine was one of the also-rans that didn’t get entered.
Anyway, I bid that baby up to $105, or a picture of it, anyway, and told the gentleman who donated it that I’d prefer him to ship it to me in early December, in time for Christmas. Sure enough, the first or second week in December, here it came. It reposed inside my gas grill on the carport for a couple of weeks — cured hams don’t have to be refrigerated, only kept in a cool place, and that was cool enough. And I set about, a few days before the weekend before Christmas, which was to be Christmas dinner weekend with the kids, to soak it.
Except I had nothing big enough in which to soak a 16-pound ham.
Not to be outdone, I double-lined a trashcan with trash bags, slipped the ham into it, covered it with water, and tied up the top of the trash bags. It worked.
Country ham must be soaked a minimum of 24, and preferably 48, hours, to remove some of the salt in which it’s been preserved. I went with 48; the first 24 in plain water I then poured off, and the second 24 in a combo of apple juice and water.
Then I coated it down in a glaze of brown sugar and Coca Cola, covered it with foil, and stashed it in the oven to cook for 20 minutes per pound at 275 degrees. And then I let it rest for an hour or so until it was time to carve it.
And then I discovered my kids’ godmother, at whose home we were gathering, has the poorest excuse for knives I’ve ever tried to use in my life. So we had shredded ham in sizeable chunks.
It was some marvelous ham. They don’t call it “the South’s proscuitto” for nothin’. It was, if you are not used to country ham, awfully salty. (They make a less-aged, milder ham that isn’t as salty; that’s what I’ll buy next year, and I WILL order one of these next year.) I might have been better served to have boiled it; that will leach some salt out, too.
Anyway, it was damn fine ham, and I’ve jumped off the gluten free wagon a time or two to have ham and biscuits, and oh, Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, what that ham will do for a pot of Great Northern beans!
I will just add that the finest thing you can do to add a condiment to this ham is to spread a little chipotle honey butter on your biscuit. So help me God, but there’s just nothing any better.
So I have lots of country ham stashed away, vacuum packed into one pound packages, and the bone is packed away in the freezer as well, against the day I take it somewhere they’ll saw it into about four separate chunks, which I will then use to make ham stock to freeze and use for all sorts of good things.
You ‘n y’mama ‘n ‘em might want to think about getting you some of this ham.