Friday, September 25, 2009

The Low Down on Cooking Country Cured Ham

Country salt cured ham.  Nothing says fall better than a great ham but they are getting more difficult to find.  The first issue is to find a reliable supplier.  In the South most local grocery stores and butcher shops have salt cured ham.  I find the Maryland north the supply begins to wane.  Smithfield country hams are consistent in quality and taste and can be ordered online. 
Overcooking the ham is the biggest mistake I see people make.  Country ham slices should be fried no more than 3 minutes on each side.  Anymore and it becomes shoe leather.  Be prepared for the extra salty taste.  I utilize country ham for breakfast and dinner meals.  Served up with grits, red eye gravy, eggs and toast and there is no better way to start your day.  For a quick dinner meal serve with rice, red eye gravy, lima beans and biscuits.  Always have plenty of sweet tea around. 
Making red eye gravy.  It's so easy it almost makes itself.  After you fry your ham add about 1/4 cup water and 1 teaspoon instant coffee to the hot pan.  Voila red eye gravy.  This is what we call a "grease" gravy - it's thin but packed with flavor. 

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