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Secrets (now revealed) The Best Way to Fix a Country Ham

ImageHere’s a note from Martha Lunken about country hams and her recipe for fixing them. Martha and her husband were regular customers at The Heritage Restaurant here, where  my husband was the General Manager. I have fond memories of Martha and am so glad she shared her recipe. Here’s what she said:

“Rita, I so vividly remember your husband, Frank, at the Heritage. Howard and Jan Melvin were friends – I taught Howard to fly! And my husband, Ebby Lunken, and I loved the restaurant.

Your recipes are great – I never worry about trying them. And I love “real” country ham and have tried specimens from Georgia, Kentucky and, of course Smithfield. The Broadbent Farms hams (Kentucky) are wonderful.

I scrub the heck out of and then soak the ham m for 4-5 days in a stationery tub in the basement (with some ice if it’s too warm), changing the water each day. And for the last 24-hours, I dump in a gallon or so of milk.

Then into my BIG roaster to cook at a simmer about 15-20 minutes/lb. in water to cover with 1 lb. light brown sugar, 3 cups apple cider vinegar, 1 TBS each cinnamon and cloves and 3 tsp whole peppercorns. The ham is done when you can pull out the little bone and the big one is loose (about 150 degrees internal temp).

I let it cool in the liquid with the roaster cover removed (boy, does the house smell good). Then transfer it onto a board, skin side up while still warm, and remove the skin…trimming the fat partially. I dust the ham with a mixture of finely ground black pepper, cornmeal and brown sugar. It goes into a 425 degree oven just long enough to glaze…15 or 20 minutes.

Thin slicing it is an art (I have a “crooked” fingertip from one encounter where the tendon was injured). But I found a local butcher who slices it for me…a real blessing.

I’m originally a “west-sider” and, unfortunately, my family aren’t “real” country ham aficionados. But whenever I can justify it with a party I buy and prepare one at Christmas. Tried “beaten biscuits” one year – pounding the dough with a mallet until I was blue in the face. Too much like “hardtack so I stick to regular biscuits (another art).”

(Photo of Ham from Broadbent Farms)

 

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