(Sung to the tune of My Old Kentucky Home by Stephen Collins Foster):
“Oh the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky ham. ‘Tis autumn and the pork legs are gay*…”
ELV note(s): Some people like to boil/simmer these big boys, but if you’ve never experienced the scent of a slow-roasting country ham permeating your home on a holiday morning, you’re missing one of the great culinary and olfactory experiences of all time.
This 14 lb. beauty (aged 11+ months) should take about five hours in a medium oven. (It can also be thinly sliced raw and eaten as proscuitto.)
The amount of fat it throws off is truly astonishing.
The gamy, salty, primal, scent and flavor can literally take your breath away.
If eternity is truly one man and a ham, then we’re glad Col. Bill Newsom has condemned us to heaven.
Quick Q & A with Nancy Newsom Mahaffey (aka The Ham Lady):
ELV: What’s the difference between a nitrate cured ham and a naturally cured ham?
Nancy Newsom Mahaffey: Naturally cured ham relies more on expertise and takes more time. The ham is rubbed three times. They don’t use nitrates (nitrates bring red color to the ham and ensure the cure, i.e. make it easier). It’s been proven in the past that hams cured with nitrites and nitrates contain more pathogens, not less, than naturally cured hams.
ELV: So it’s harder to to get the ham to cure using just salt?
NNM: It’s much more difficult not to use nitrates and just use natural dry rubs, salt and pepper. You have to monitor the ham, and it takes much more time to observe the ham and do it ina natural way. It requires much more expertise to determine when the ham is properly cured. Because Newsom does their curing process naturally, we have to provide a moisture test to the Food and Drug Administration before we can sell our ham(s).
* As in jaunty, dashing and colorful…