When the Heritage party arrived in Princeton, the rain had finally stopped and blue skies ruled the day. All that was missing was a ham sandwich….
Tag: country ham
Newsom’s Old Mill Store was opened in 1917, and although it burned down and was rebuilt next door to the original locale, it doesn’t feel like much has changed. The poplar floor creeks like an ancient symphony, even the door whistles like a bluegrass concerto when it swings shut. Outside on the sidewalk, there are a dozen varieties of tomato plants for sale, and pretty much everything you might want for your garden. Inside, are every manner of beans and corn, and jars of country condiments, from Hot Chow Chow to Appalachian Piccallili. In the back corner, past the buckets of penny candy, is where they slice the ham….
wasn’t going to be easy to make a living curing hams…. so I wrote to everyone I could think of, anyone who could help, university professors, cooks, I wanted to hear everyone’s ideas, and I studied everything I could, but I could never improve on the recipe from the old smoke house behind the house I was born in — people really seemed to like it. At the beginning I was thinking about curing quickly, maybe one hour for a twelve-lb. ham – I thought if I was going to make it in this business I had to work very fast and quick-cure, which is what the business was. But my daddy told me ‘If you play the other guy’s game, you are always going to lose. Make it the best you can. Quality is what is going to sustain you….
It was teeming rain on the way from Nashville to Madisonville, Tennessee, the kind of rain that obscures the green, Smoky Mountains of Tennessee behind sheets of steam and fog and sounds like war drums on the roof of a rented car. It didn’t take much imagination to think we were driving through Skull Island, home of King Kong, or had somehow made a detour into the Heart of Darkness, a scene from Apocalypse Now. The truth, however, was far more comforting: We were on a mission to see a King and Queen of country ham, Al Benton and Nancy Newsom….
Edwards Prosciutto-Style Ham
This is a dry-cured ham that boasts the signature flavors of Surry, VA, where hams have been produced for 90 years by the Edwards family. Sam Edwards painstakingly salts, smokes and ages Berkshire hams for 400-600 days. As our hams pass through the Spring, Summer and Fall rooms of the Edwards facility, they acquire a depth of flavor that is second to none.
One 3.5-4lb piece $135
Broadbent Prosciutto-Style Ham
New-World and Old-World collide in this fresh example of Heritage cured ham. After over 100 years, Broadbent boasts a pasture-raised heritage product line and the results are a lighter, sweet and salty American prosciutto. Perfect with summer melon or on home made pizza! One 2.5-3lb piece $99
One 2.5-3lb piece $99
Fourth-generation ’nduja artisan Antonio Fiasche crafts his specialty in Chicago, where his family has run Ristorante Agostino for 32 years. Antonio was introduced to us at the 2016 Good Food Awards, honoring America’s great artisans. His ’nduja is sweet up front, followed by a subtle but uninhibited heat. We guarantee you’ll find this traditional Calabrian spread an unexpected and unforgettable, bold delicacy.
Three 6oz packs $36
This Salame di Felino is made in the Emilia-Romagna-style from the western part of the Province of Parma, most notably known for their prosciutto and Parmigiano Reggiano. It has a mild taste and buttery finish with distinct marbling throughout. This no frills porky salami is soft with creamy sweet fat. Nello’s Specialty Meats, one of Pennsylvania’s great curemasters, is a community fixture that processes and cures for dozens of farms locally.
Three 8oz packs $39
Easy Entertaining Package
Receive all 4 of the heritage cured meats plus a well-rounded Soppressata Salami with notes of black pepper from Underground Meats in Madison, WI.
Easy Entertaining package $175
Twenty years ago, the bulk of American charcuterie was cheap, commodity product. You could get a domestic prosciutto in a supermarket for half the price of Prosciutto di Parma. More recently, charcuterie in the United States is following the same trend we have seen with wine, beer, cheese, and bread. The talent chain is expanding and quality ingredients are becoming more accessible.
Says Martins, “Two decades ago, if you wanted to buy an imported beer, you paid a premium. American beer was cheap. Now the most expensive and sought-after beer is domestic, handcrafted beer, made in smaller quantities, with the best ingredients.
“The same thing is happening with high-quality charcuterie. Largely because of a new dedication to responsibly-sourced ingredients — heritage breeds, raised on pasture, humanely. The domestic version will be the sought after product. Imports will dwindle. We’ll still love our Italian and Spanish hams, but they won’t be nearly as prevalent, they’ll be nostalgia. The market is changing right before our eyes.”
This new wave is more sophisticated because of the quality of the farming. We are determined to change the taste through better ingredients — and you can’t make a great ham without starting with a great pig.”
There are two approaches to making a great ham — the Old-World style, best-known as Prosciutto di Parma or Jamón Serrano, and the American traditional style that comes out of the deep South, with the added step of smoking — and Heritage Foods is working with outstanding proponents of both:
Broadbent Hams, under the direction of Ronny and Beth Drennan, in Kuttawa, Kentucky, have won championships from the National Country Ham Association. They have recently added a new line of heritage breed, pasture-raised hams to their existing line of Southern Style hams, which goes back 100 years. They represent a new American style of prosciutto — lighter, with a uniquely sweet and salty flavor. The first wave will be available beginning this fall.
Cesare Casella was trained by the Norcini, the great Tuscan traveling butchers. He is a famed New York restaurateur, and Dean of Italian Studies at the International Culinary Center. His Casella’s pasture-raised salami is an astonishingly nuanced example of the artform. His line of Old World-style heritage prosciutto will be available beginning in March and are sure to be a formidable presence, bringing three-hundred years of Italian tradition to the vanguard.
Antonio Fiasche from ’Nduja Artisans continues a great tradition of Italian charcuterie. His family has run Ristorante Agostino in Chicago for over thirty years, and Antonio has led the charge towards expanding a curing business anchored by a wide variety of salamis and their family specialty, ’nduja, a spreadable, spicy, Calabrian pâté, which they have been making for five generations.
Al Benton cures his hams in an ancient smokehouse in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with little consideration for the modern world. Even though Benton is a household name in the South, he is still hands-on and present in all steps of the curing process. He is another famed traditionalist who is forwarding the cause of the American charcuterie renaissance. His strong, salty, smoky hams have always enjoyed a huge following.
In addition, the Heritage Foods roster of great curemasters includes Nancy Newsom, whose grandfather started a curing tradition in his old Kentucky home that allowed seasonal change to flavor the ham naturally; Armondino Batali in Seattle, who creates bold, charismatic salumi from pasture-raised meat; Johnny Hunter, from Underground Meats in Wisconsin; Sam Suchoff and Rufus Brown, from Lady Edison in North Carolina; and Paradise Locker Meats whose injection curing process produces delectable maple sugar hams.