The dilemma facing pioneer mountain cooks was how to keep freshly butchered meat from spoiling without refrigeration.
Hogs were butchered in the late fall when the temperature was down around 33 degrees,
and while the meat was fresh, it was salt cured.
The next spring any leftovers would be smoked under a fire of green hickory or peppered.
Sausage was packed in the intestines of the hog, tied off and also hung in the smokehouse for curing.
Salting, peppering, and smoking protected the meat from spoiling and from insects. Today it's that salt, pepper, and smoky flavor that we love in country ham,
bacon, and sausage.
Thanks so much for sending the nice ham to my brother. As I said, he loved it so much, he gave slices away to some of his friends, and now the ones that didn't get to sample the "real" cured ham
he brags about, are asking for their sample. Please, pickout another nice one for him, and I'm sure more orders will be forthcoming for Christmas.
Wanda M. - Nashville
Cooking a Salt Cured Ham
You must fry or bake a country cured ham. It has not been cooked,
but requires no refrigeration at room temperatures (75 degrees F.)
until cut. With warm water wash and scrub the ham clean of excess
salt and mold and soak in the refrigerator overnight.
To fry, slice the ham approximately 1/4to 3/8 inches thick and slowly cook
and turn often. Don't overcook. If ham is unusually lean, add
some lard or vegetable oil to the skillet. Some prefer to fry
the center slices in water and carbonated beverage (we like 7 Up).
Serve with biscuits and red eye gravy.
To boil or bake a whole ham or sections, simmer a completely
immersed ham in water or a mixture of water and fruit juice
(apple, orange, or peach) for about 25 minutes per pound, or
bake in the oven at 250 degrees in a roasting pan,
without boiling, in water or a mixture of water, brown sugar
and vinegar for 25 minutes per pound of ham to an internal
temperature of 160 degrees F. Your ham is done when you can
stick a knife into it with a little resistance and the meat
begins to separate from the bone. Remove the skin and excess
fat, return the ham to a roasting pan and add cloves and a
rub of brown sugar, vinegar, and dried mustard and broil
until sugar is melted. When browned as desired, add pineapples
or baked apple slices, and serve at room temperature or warmer.
Country salt cured ham, whether broiled, boiled, or fried retains its natural salty taste.
Most people enjoy that in a fried piece between a biscuit, and some may temper it with
jelly, jam, or honey. When baking a country ham we recommend soaking the ham from 4 to
12 hours, prior to cooking, intermittently changing the water to take out some of the salt.
Your ham, its usage, and your ham taste, will determine whether a particular brand of ham needs to be soaked prior to cooking. For more information particular to the brand of ham you're preparing, please visit our recipes page.
You can bake, boil, or fry a country ham, but if you want that rich smoked taste of salt-cured country ham we advise you to bake it slow and low until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Then let it cool to room temperature and serve thinly sliced with dinner rolls.
Now if Uncle Tom insists on having his ham fried and on a flaky biscuit either cut off some slices before you bake it, then fry in a cast iron skillet. When scorched on both sides take the ham slices out of the pan and pour some black coffee right into the skillet and stir.
See our red eye gravy recipe on line at www.thecountryhamstore.com
You can also slice pieces (3/8ths of an inch) from your baked ham and lightly fry them up for breakfast. Some people will fry their slices in water, but we prefer frying them in their own fat or with a little Pam on the skillet.
For more recipes visit The Country Ham Store.
Storing and Slicing
Store in a brown paper bag or its original wrapping in a cool dry place. Do not wrap in plastic. Once the ham is cut you should wrap the pieces and refrigerate for immediate use, or freeze.
According to the USDA a whole, uncut, properly cured and stored Country Ham can be edible for one year. For best taste Clifty Farm recommends consumption of their hams within six months.
To slice, cut parallel to the aitchbone on a diagonal. Position the ham with the the flatter side down. The bulbous portion is the back of the leg. Slice down on a 45 degree angle from the back of the leg. The butt is best for baking and the center of the ham for frying. Use the shank portion for cubing and biscuit portions of meat. Smaller portions from the hock can be used for beans and vegetables.
You can also ask your local butcher or supermarket to slice your ham to your specifications, they'll usually do this as a courtesy to their regular customers, or charge about $5.
Just had to let you know that we had purchased one of your salt cured hams
before Christmas. Never got around to cooking it until this past week. It
was wonderful! We will be back for more! Thanks for a wonderful product.
Gary and Barbara C.
Los Osos, CA
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