Author: Patty Lee


Thanksgiving Turkey Mistakes

6 Common Thanksgiving Turkey Mistakes

Thanksgiving! There’s no other meal so rewarding yet so anxiety ridden then this once yearly feast. Your heritage turkey is going to be the star of Thanksgiving dinner. Protect your investment and your reputation this year by avoiding these 6 Common Thanksgiving Turkey mistakes!

American Goat meat.

Goatober is Here!

Americans LOVE cheese. Cheese consumption in the US has TRIPLED since 1970. This trend has been equally true for goat cheese. We’ve also begun to make more artisan cheeses at home here in the States, which is a point of pride for American cheese makers– but there’s still one thing we don’t do a lot of. Eat goat meat….

Wine and Beer Pairings for Ham

We spoke with Jeff Porter, Del Posto’s acclaimed wine director, to get some tips and inspiration for pairing wine and beer with our salty cured ham. We Gave him two hams, both American, and asked him what he thought. Here’s what he picked…

Maple Sugar Cured Heritage Ham

1. Makes a killer Ham & Swiss sandwich and go for a high altitude white – a Swiss white would be great (those can be hard to find) so a delish Pinot Bianco from Alto Adige in Italy is perfect.
2. For brunch – sear it up, serve with pancakes and have some Champagne or other yeasty sparkling wine.
3. By itself from the fridge (so it is cold) an East Coast IPA – not as hoppy as a west coast IPA but has the bright and fresh palate to keep the richness in check.

S. Wallace Edwards & Sons 400 day aged Surryano Ham

An amazing cut of pig! The balance between sweet, savory, fatty and salty was perfect. There are a lot of beverages that I would enjoy consuming with the cured ham, but as always it depends on how you use it:

Classic: A super dry white from Spain would be really delish with this – a white Rioja or my fav Spanish wine – a Fino Sherry or better yet a Manzanilla (a sub sect of Fino Sherry)

America: I could take this 3 ways – beer/wine/booze
Beer: An American example of Saison beer would be really good with this – the citrus notes and brightness balance out the rich flavor
Booze: Go whiskey based cocktails or a sweet version of Bourbon on the rocks like Four Roses Single Barrel
Wine: We can go a few different ways – I really like sparkling wine and the bright acidity mixed with the richness of the yeast work well with the ham – thin Schramsburg Blanc de Blanc or Roederer Estate Brut NV – I also think a classic Sauvignon Blanc from northern California would work really well – again – it is about balancing the salty/richness of the ham.

No expense spared: If you want to go “hog wild” – I would go Champagne – lean on a richer style of Champagne – something with oomph – like Krug
Other wine pairings: Friulano from Italy, A Riesling from Germany (from the Rheingau or Rheinhessen) – the best thing is that the ham is very versatile

Glazed Heritage Ham

Our Guide For The Perfect Ham

Glazed Heritage Ham
Honey Mustard Glazed Heritage Ham.

A beautifully cured ham is one of the most convenient, delicious, and versatile additions to any menu. Because cured hams are fully cooked they are able to be enjoyed hot or cold. This allows for easy entertaining while still offering a delicious and impressive centerpiece. Weighing about 11 pounds each, one bone-in ham will serve 18 guests, or as many as 26 when prepared as part of a family style meal.

A cured hams ability to stay fresh in your refrigerator longer then other meats also adds to its convenience and economic value. When sourced thoughtfully from responsible producers, cured ham is a sustainable alternative to deli meats and other daily convenience foods.

Our heritage hams are expertly prepared by the Fantasma family curemasters and have won numerous awards for their flavor and texture. The most important ingredient in our hams is time– both time spent on the farm where our heritage breeds are allowed to grow and mature naturally, and time in the curehouse, where they are patiently cared for and aged.

Our heritage hams are perfectly balanced in flavor and boast a rich buttery texture with a sweet and savory finish. All of our pork is from pasture raised, hormone and antibiotic free animals. The pigs are raised with care using traditional methods guaranteed to produce the very best tasting meat and are processed at a Certified Humane facility.

Our breeds include Berkshire, Red Wattle, Duroc, Gloucestershire Old Spots, Large Black, and Tamworth. Each heritage breed boasts its own flavor profile, and we encourage you to try them all.

Follow our guide bellow for the perfect ham served hot or cold, and leave a comment with your favorite ham tips!

To Serve Warm

Gently warm the ham in a 325° oven with at least 1/2 cup of water, wine, or stock in the pan. You can cover the ham with foil to help ensure it doesn’t dry out. Using a meat thermometer, remove your ham from the oven at 130-135°. Remember, your ham is already cooked; you’re just warming it through.

If you are planning to use a glaze, wait until the last 15-30 minutes of cooking before applying. Any earlier and you’ll risk burning the sugars in the glaze before the ham has time to warm. Heat your ham low and slow, but don’t be afraid to crank it up at the end to get that nice crispy, caramelized bubbling glaze, always being sure to keep a watchful eye the whole time!

PRO TIP: Allow your ham to rest outside of the fridge before cooking. A room temperature ham will require less total cooking time resulting in a juicier ham! And don’t forget– always rest your meat before carving.

To Serve Cold

Our Maple Sugar Cured hams are fully cooked and ready to enjoy. If you are planning to serve your ham at room temperature simply allow it to rest covered on the counter until the initial chill from the fridge has subsided.

PRO TIP: Left over ham will keep in your fridge for 3 weeks, or it can be frozen for up to 6 months.

The History of Ham

Vintage Ham Ad from 1922
Vintage American Ham Ad, Morris & Company; 1922

The history of ham traces back to ancient traditions. One of the most important prerequisites for the development of civilization was the preservation and storage of food. Drying, smoking, and curing were some of the earliest methods discovered by the ancients. The advent of curing enabled cities, people and cultures to flourish.

The preserving of pork leg as ham has a long history. Many credit the Chinese as being the first people to record curing raw hams, while other have cited the Gauls. It cannot be argued though that it was certainly a well-established practice by the Roman period. Cato the Elder wrote extensively about the “salting of hams” in his De Agri Cultura tome around 160 BC.

The popularity of ham can also be traced to the producers’ geographic location. The conditions required for curing meat need to be such that it is not so cold that the ham freezes, unable to cure, or too warm causing the ham to spoil. The result is distinct areas around the world renowned for their particular hams. Italian prosciutto and Spanish Serrano, as well as American country ham from Kentucky and Virginia are all located on what can be described as the worlds Ham Belt— a geographic area bound by latitude and historically producing the world’s most revered hams. With the advent of technology, climate control and the mechanization of many of our food production methods geographic location has become less important for the production of ham, but these original ham centers are still prized as being the finest ham producing regions today.

Ham remains one of the most consumed pork products in the world. On average Americans eat 193 sandwiches a year, with ham being by far the most popular choice. The curing process for dry cured ham begins by rubbing the fresh ham with salt and sometimes sugar, spices, and nitrates. Italian prosciutto and Spanish Serrano hams are made with a pure salt cure and no added nitrates or nitrites. Some American hams are also nitrate free. When used, nitrates ensure a pink color and cured flavor in a short amount of time, and provide some anti-microbial benefits as well. Nitrates are not a modern addition to the curing process; they have been added to hams in the form of saltpeter for hundreds of years and in the form of impure salts for millennia.

Meat naturally contains a small amount of nitrates, which allow it to take on a beautiful color on its own. The longer a ham is aged, the fewer added nitrates are necessary. Many American hams are cured with brown or white sugar in addition to salt. The sugar is not added for sweetness, but rather to soften the harshness of the salt and the toughening effects of nitrates. Red and black pepper is sometimes added as well, lending some flavor but also discouraging bugs from attacking the ham. Machines are typically used to rub the cure into factory-produced ham, but as any ham artisan will tell you, the hand of the skilled salter is important.

Whatever your ham of choice, join us in celebrating the rich history and tradition of this ancient food.

Fun Ham Facts

Almost every country in the world produces Hams. Here are of some of the better known hams of the world: prosciutto, Westphalian, Parma, Smithfield, Virginia, Kentucky, Country, Canned, Bayonne, York, Mainz, Prague, Asturias, Toulouse, Dijon, Black Forest, Bohemian, Serrano, presunto, Bradenham, Estremadura, Prazska sunks, and szynka.

-Some ham experts prefer ham made from the left leg of a pig, believing it to be more tender. This idea came about after observing that a pigs scratch themselves with their right leg, engaging those muscles more and deducing that the more muscled right leg would be tougher.

-Pigs are not native to America; Hernando de Soto is credited with bringing the first 13 hogs to the New World in 1525.

-American “city” hams and “country” hams: “City” hams are processed in a wet cure or brine and typically smoked, not aged. “Country” hams are dry-cured and aged, producing a stronger flavor that is saltier and drier.

-On the Apollo 13 mission, the crew managed to create a functioning CO2 filter out of duct tape and glazed ham.

-Due to a Civil War surrender agreement, Virginia Baked Ham was given that name to insult the residents of Virginia.

-Chicago artist Dwight Kalb made a statue of Madonna from 180 pounds of ham.

For more information about hams please visit

 

S. Wallace Edwards and Sons

Cooking Issues

FoodReference.com 

National Ham Council

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