Posted in Back in the Day, Depression Food, From Scratch, Historical, Pork, The Hungry Hen

How to Cook an Aged, Country-Cured Ham

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Funny, how one day I noticed just how popular Country Hams were. I was standing at the concessions stand at my daughter’s softball game. Waiting on my Fries, a kid beside me looked up at his mother and said, “Mom, did they make the Country Ham sandwiches again?” Over Hot Dogs, Burgers or Fries, some freckled faced boy wanted salty, country pork. And my slap to attention didn’t stop there. I was at the local, summer Carnival when I seen a lady I had not seen out our way before. I asked what drug her out of the city limits and she replied, “Oh, my husband and I try to stop in every year just to get us a Country Ham Sandwich.” When my Great Aunt Joyce came down to visit not long after, I asked if she was hungry and wanted a sandwich. “Do you have any Country Ham? I haven’t had that for ages. I am just dying for some!”

Country Ham is most certainly right up there with Fried Chicken and Sweet Ice Tea. The problem is, not many folks make one anymore. They wait till they hit up a Family members house, a carnival or, well, as I learned, a ball game somewhere in the South. I suppose one reason could be the size of a Ham. They are rather large and most folks don’t have the freezer space to store the left overs. Most can’t even eat a third of one on their own. But the biggest reason, I think, people make them less and less at home is because they don’t know how. Honestly, it takes a bit of doing and many have lost the know-how.

The trick to a Country Ham is, you want to soak it overnight. You want to soak it for at least 12- 18 hours. You want to cover it in water—and folks, sometimes I change my water out a few times, depending on how salty you want it. I’ve also have soaked mine for two days, as well, before. And, I have actually soaked mine in a five gallon bucket. Not everyone has the sink room, ya know?

Next, and this is a part many forget because the “knowing’ has been lost between generations. Get yourself a pot. Drain the Ham from the water you have been soaking it in, place it in the pot and cover over again with fresh, cold water. You are going to want to SIMMER the Ham for ONLY TWO HOURS. I don’t care if that thing is the size of a watermelon, only SIMMER for TWO HOURS. DON’T BOIL. SIMMER. 

When the two hours is up, pull the Ham off the stove and just let it sit in it’s own juices – that pot of water—and completely cool down. Once it has, cut off the rind and clean it up. You can glaze it…

Honey – Just drizzle Honey over the Ham.

Brown Sugar – 1 Cup Brown Sugar (I like Dark), 1-2 tsp. Dry Mustard and 1/2 tsp. Cloves (optional)

Or whatever Glaze you want to invent. I’ve seen some people make Glaze out of Jams like Orange, Apricot, Apple Butter, whatever. It’s you’re world, so roll with it.

Last, place it in a preheated oven at 400 degrees and Bake (about 30-40 minutes). When you cut Country Ham, don’t cut thick slices. It should be cut in super thin ones. Not unless you are into thick. Freeze any extras in pieces to make Beans or whatever you desire or to pull out when company comes over to make Red Eyed Gravy or Biscuits.

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