This week on Food Makers I’ll be talking about one my favorite subjects–the art and craft of the country ham. The Google+ hangout on air is tomorrow, Nov. 14 at 2pm PST/5pm PST. Tune in right here.
Chances are you’ve had proscuitto before, Italy’s glorious, dry-cured ham. If you’ve traveled to Spain or visited a well-stocked deli you may have indulged in a taste of jamon serrrano, Spain’s famed dry-cured ham, the finest of which are aged in the cold, dry climate of the Alpujarras Mountains (“jamon serrano” means mountain ham) where they achieve a sublime, buttery, nutty, and tangy richness. (I spent my honeymoon in Spain and I admit I took more pictures of legs of jamon serrano hanging from tapas bar ceilings than I did of my wife; I digress.) But unless you’re from the American south or know someone who is, you’ve probably never tried America’s version of artisinal pork perfection–the country ham. If so, you’re missing out.
Southern states such as Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina have a long tradition of making hams, some of which are smoked over hickory or oak and aged a year or more. Although they can be quite salty, aged country hams are every bit as delicious as their Italian and Spanish counterparts–and sold at a fraction of the price.
While November is turkey month, hams make a big showing this month, too. So instead of talking turkey I’ll be talking pork during this hangout, live and online. My guests will include Sam Edwards III, third-generation owner of Edwards country hams in Surry, VA and Nancy “the Ham Lady” Newsom Mahaffey, owner of Colonel Bill Newsom’s Aged Kentucky Country Ham in Princeton, KY. See you there.