Monday, December 23, 2013

I ham what I ham

My favorite adage is "men are pigs.. but
I like ham!" The fact is I do adore men.
But I think I may love pork even more.
With apologies to my dear Kosher friends,
I can't stop eating pork chops, belly ribs
roasts, bacon, side pork, tenderloins, and
sausage! For whatever reason I find the
other white meat divine! I simply can't get
enough of all things porcine. This holiday
I plan to make a pig of myself doing so!

For Christmas dinner I'm serving ham.
In my opinion there is nothing as easy
nor delicious. Serving a savory slab of
pig used to be a symbol of celebration.
An indulgence that signified whatever
occasion a ham was presented at table
was different from the mundane. Sadly
ham became everyday along the way.
The stuff of sandwiches, breakfast
sides, and Spam rather than feasts.
Ethel's culinary skills were limited at best.
As a classic WASP, she was happy with
almost anything boiled, baked, or broiled.
That said, she knew a good ham when she
found one. Upon retiring to the tidewater
region of Virginia, her ham expertise grew
to a formidable level. With Smithville just
a ferry ride across the James River, Mother
had access to the best hams bar none. After
years of querying her friends (their help)
Mom knew where the locals went to get
the best. Like their recipe for biscuits or
pie crust, no secret is held more dearly.
Many years ago most of America shifted to pre-cooked hams. Whether in a can or at the grocer, somebody else did all the work to create that sweet pink mound. Transforming a Virginia ham from a dessicated carcass to a juicy jewel does require soaking in a tub or parboiling before baking. Smoked or salt cured, you must rejuvenate the meat prior to dining. However true Virginians make a super salty ham salad out of ham chipped off the old block and slathered in mayo. Nibble while your blood pressure rises!

A pre-cooked ham couldn't be
easier. All you have to do is reheat it, nothing more. Of course many dress it up by criss-crossing the exterior with a sharp knife, dotting each diamond with a whole clove, covering it with a gooey glaze, and artfully placing pineapple rings in a decorative pattern. It's almost idiot proof!
It's time we restore ham back to it's
traditional role as a culinary star. We
must demand that it moves beyond
Eggs Benedict. So start asking for it
where ever you dine. Soon it will be
on every brunch carving station and
featured as an elegant entree. If we
all have just one ham dinner a week,
it will once more rise to preeminence.
So please, join the pig party and the
next time you host a dinner, serve
up a steaming slab of cured pork.