Oh, what to say about country ham? I imagine it’s something that people either love or can’t quite stomach (because it’s pretty salty.) So different from a typical baked ham in both taste and texture it is definitely a treat. It is salty, that is for sure….but in a completely addictive way. The texture is more like a hard prosciutto than the softer textured baked ham that most of us are used to.
I had never had county before I met Jim. His grandmother prepares it occasionally and at Christmas this year his mom made it and told me the steps in the process. (Martha if you would like to add anything to this, please do!)
If you decide to prepare one, give yourself a couple of days because it needs to soak to get some of the salt out (which is hard to imagine because it is still really salty once it’s cooked.) We usually have it with another meat because you will probably only want a small portion of this.
If you want a true taste of southern cuisine, give this country ham a try. If you live in the south you should be able to find it in your local grocery store. If not, you can surely order one online. Smithfield has them available. I believe the ones that Jim’s family gets come in the cloth sack which I think is how they are cured.
Also, if you have tried the pre-sliced country ham from the grocery store, this is sooooo very different. The real deal is so much better. Enjoy!
How to cook a country ham
- 2 c. white vinegar
- 1 qt. apple cider
- 1 c. brown sugar
- Pineapple juice
- Scrub outside of ham to get rid of mold that has formed. Soak ham in cold water for 24 hours changing water several times during this time period. After this period, add water again to cover and this time include the vinegar. Simmer ham for 25 minutes per pound. During the last two hours add the brown sugar and cider. Place ham in a baking dish and remove some of the layer of fat. Set oven to 300 degrees and bake for another hour. Baste with Pineapple juice and mustard.
- Allow the ham to cool and then slice very thin.
- If your ham comes with a hock sticking out you will want to ask your butcher to cut it off. I believe the ones you buy at the supermarkets do not have the hock attached.