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RECOMMENDATIONS needed for a good, aged COUNTRY HAM

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

For decades, we've ordered our Christmas ham from Esicar's Smokehouse in Cape Girardeau MO, but a few years ago they retired and closed after only 73 years in business, We found Colonel Newsome's Hams in Princeton, KY and have been pretty well pleased, but some negative reviews have cropped up recently, and I thought we might benefit from some others' experience.

 

We want a whole country ham-  salt-cured, smoked, and peppered and hung at least one year. We'll need to have them cook it, since we no longer have the huge pot required to cook a whole ham properly. For whatever reason, the ham people are emphatic that the ham must be completely submerged as you simmer it for five or six hours.

 

We've had them from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia (think Smithfield which is an industrial-scale product, but good), Kentucky, and Missouri, and would consider any of these. Just don't suggest Vermont where, I've read, they smoke them over corncobs. We're just not up for that; we're too used to hickory

 

We're just fine with "Tough as a drill Sergeant's boot" the motto of Lambert's Cafe,  a nice restaurant in Sikeston, MO which features country ham on their menu. :thumb: 

 

Thanks in advance as always for your help.

 

Mike


Edited by MikeLM - 10/22/14 at 7:15pm
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post #2 of 22

These guys have good reviews http://bentonscountryhams2.com/

post #3 of 22
I've used Benton's on numerous occasions and it is truly a superior product. It's like soft prosciutto.
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 

Mary and 'minute-

 

Thank you both.

 

That Benton's ham certainly looks right, and the price is quite reasonable.  I'm going to order a sample tomorrow and if that goes well, I'll be back for a ham.

 

I'm still open for suggestions, though, so if you have another source, I'd really like to hear about it.

 

Mike

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post #5 of 22

Benton's looks a lot more reasonable than these folks:

 

http://www.edwardsvaham.com/category/country-ham
 

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post #6 of 22

I have used Benton twice, good stuff. I am sure there are better but at what price?

post #7 of 22
I want one too! I want it from virginia!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 

Well, Koukou'

 

As I said, Smithfield Hams are widely available and quite good.  Those Edwards hams look nice, but seem pretty pricey. All my life, I've liked 'em salty, long-hung, and tough. ;)  You slice them paper-thin like prosciutto or about a quarter-inch thick for pan-frying and serve with red-eye gravy.  That's made by deglazing the pan with fresh, very strong black coffee.  This goes best with a little butter over grits. 

 

We'll make a southern girl out of you yet!

 

Mike

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post #9 of 22
http://www.smokedspecialtymeats.com/#/home

Before we moved across the pond we always would by our stuff here. Fantastic hams, and pretty much everything else.
post #10 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeLM View Post
 

Well, Koukou'

 

As I said, Smithfield Hams are widely available and quite good.  Those Edwards hams look nice, but seem pretty pricey. All my life, I've liked 'em salty, long-hung, and tough. ;)  You slice them paper-thin like prosciutto or about a quarter-inch thick for pan-frying and serve with red-eye gravy.  That's made by deglazing the pan with fresh, very strong black coffee.  This goes best with a little butter over grits. 

 

We'll make a southern girl out of you yet!

 

Mike

 

Well guess what I grew up in Virginia so :p I am a southern girl!  Here's the proof:

 

 

 

I have NEVER seen a country ham here in NY so I'll have to order one.  How long does it last and I need to find something to do with it other than red eye gravy.  We used to slice it thin and eat it on sandwiches.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

O...O...O...O...O...O...OH Koukou'... you seem to know something about fried chicken!

What time is dinner?

 

We both grew up south of the Mason-Dixon Line, so we're fellow sort-of Southerners. (Missouri and Maryland for me.) I used to spend summers with my aunt in Fredericksburg.

 

They've already cured the bejeezus out of a real country ham, so it will last as long as you want it to.  We have it for Christmas dinner, then keep it in the fridge (or out on the porch, in that season) and knaw on it for two months or so. Then  I slice up what's left into thin sandwich-ready slices and dice the lumpy parts for the best ham salad you will ever taste.  We freeze all this; nowadays we vac-pack it into serving-size packages. I've got one or two pacs from last year's ham still in the freezer- it is just fine. The hambone goes into a really large vat of split-pea soup, which is also portioned and frozen. These things are expensive, but they're a no-waste proposition.

 

For sandwiches, we use slices of a favorite bread with mayo and a leaf of lettuce on each, LOTS of ham, a thin slice of mild cheese like swiss, a very thin slice of mild onion, and a little spicy mustard. You want some complimentary flavors, but nothing to the point that gets in the way of the ham flavor.

 

Mike

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post #12 of 22

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 

Well, that's sort of a drag...

 

Went to Benton's website and decided to order a small sample of the smoked, aged ham for eight bucks. Not until I put my shipping address in did I learn that would also cost me a little over $16 for shipping. I assume Mr. Benton will personally walk it up here to

Chiacgo and hand it to me.

 

May just go by the reviews and get a ham- but God knows what the freight on that will be.

 

Mike :(

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post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeLM View Post
 

O...O...O...O...O...O...OH Koukou'... you seem to know something about fried chicken!

What time is dinner?

 

 

 

Thank you :D  This was from a few months ago.  Of course fried chicken is available everywhere in the south, but my mother only cooked it once a year on my birthday.  Fried chicken used to be my favorite food in the whole world.  

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #15 of 22

Shipping is expensive these days, large flat rate box is $16 and I bet it goes priority mail to make it faster.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by MikeLM View Post
 

Well, that's sort of a drag...

 

Went to Benton's website and decided to order a small sample of the smoked, aged ham for eight bucks. Not until I put my shipping address in did I learn that would also cost me a little over $16 for shipping. I assume Mr. Benton will personally walk it up here to

Chiacgo and hand it to me.

 

May just go by the reviews and get a ham- but God knows what the freight on that will be.

 

Mike :(

post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 

"Fried chicken used to be my favorite food in the whole world."

 

Well, I discovered Missouri country ham when I was four years old, and it's still my favorite food in the whole world!

 

Mike :bounce:

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post #17 of 22

Modern water cured hams are tasteless blobs of salt. I don't care for the texture even. A picnic ham I can live with, more flavor but still that water logged texture that just turns me off compared to the country ham I ate as a kid. Grandpa always had a couple hams aging in his smokehouse back in a spot away from the heat. So every time he made a batch of sausage or bacon the hams got a little bit smokier. After 12 months he would bring one in for a holiday meal. I miss that flavor but the price of the dry aged hams is just to high.

post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 

Koukou'-

 

You'r looking for Virginia ham, this might be a good place to start

 

http://www.smithfieldmarketplace.com/category/country-hams?utm_source=MSN&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=country%2Bham

 

Hope you have good luck./

 

Mike

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post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 

OK, Mary and 'minute...

 

Your reputations are on the line!

 

I just ordered an aged, smoked whole ham from Benton's for our Christmas table centerpiece. It better be good !

 

In six weeks or so, we'll know.

 

Mike  ;)

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post #20 of 22

LOL if they are as good as they were in the past you will like it. Follow the cooking directions carefully or it will be way to salty for many. I would save some uncooked slices off it for pan frying for breakfast!

post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 

Mary-

 

Thank you for those pointers.  I'm going to try some of it uncooked, but am a little worried about the saltiness. We boiled the (uncooked) Missouri hams 3-4 hours, completely submerged, which considerably reduced the salt though they were still plenty salty, and I'm worried that without the long simmer we may find it too strong.  I'm hoping there will be directions/suggestions with the Benton's ham.  If not, I'm going to call them for advice.

 

I'll keep you posted.

 

Mike

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post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 

Well, a surprise...

 

PBS Chicago is running a "The Mind of A Chef"  program on Kentucky cooking, partly devoted to country ham, starting with a quick tour of Colonel Newsome's where we got last year's ham. So far, haven't shown me anything I don't already know. 

 

Hey- now they're showing sorghum molasses!  I grew up on it. If you can find it, try some; it's lighter that conventional molasses with a quite distinctive taste. Read the label carefully, though .... some people will sell you corn syrup flavored with sorghum.

 

Now they've switched to some America's Test Kitchen.

 

Happy cooking!

 

Mike  :chef:

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