A Real Hankerin’ For A Bone-in Ham
Every once in a while, I get a hankerin’ (it’s the way my people used to talk) for a taste of a good ol’ bone-in country ham – the kind that my grandmother used to make on Easter. If you’ve ever tasted one, the taste was absolutely unforgettable.
The KISS Principle Applies Here
If you’re planning to purchase a ham, my advice is to keep it simple. Something happens to many of the commercial types that are for sale. These hams are most likely soaked in brine and injected with who knows what resulting in an odd, artificially sweet taste. Even the appearance seems wrong. The mahogany-lacquered look and the spiral cut seems to make it seem a bit too slick and citified.
To my tastes, a ham should taste like ham. I prefer it to have a savory-robust hammy flavor that a ham gets that’s cooked close to the bone. The bone in this case is the pig’s thigh or “aitch” bone.
You can buy a whole leg of pork or one of its two parts: the butt or the shank. The butt end is usually leaner and more tender, while the shank end’s meat is a bit tougher but has more flavor. I also don’t like the spiral cut. I think the meat dries out faster, and I prefer to control the size of the slices. For my recipe click on Bone-in Ham Shank. Scroll down past the narrative.
At The Table
A holiday ham has the same presence as a turkey or a prime rib roast. A ceremonial carving should take place making it another of the festive meats. Each slice is placed on the plate along with plain or creamed peas, sweet or scalloped potatoes, perhaps a side of spiced apples, some deviled eggs, and Parker House rolls. Pair it with a wine with a bit of sweetness such as Riesling, rose’, Grenache, or a chenin blanc, and it’s good eats ahead.
A ham is also like a turkey, in that the left-overs are wonderful. We cut them into slices and cube the pieces. And we take all of the scraps and bones and add them to soups and sides. For days we enjoy ham sandwiches, ham and eggs, ham and beans, and the list goes on.
A Thing For Pigs
Being a farm boy, and being involved with raising pigs, I often watched my father walk among them and select the one for our consumption (the rest were sent to market). The ham is from the upper part of the back leg, so basically the pig that was the most muscled in this area was the one that we chose. As a result I’ve spent lots of time in the hog yard with him checking out haunches. This may explain why I’ve always had a thing for Kermit’s girlfriend, Miss Piggy.