Saturday, December 19, 2015


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

Goose aside, our Christmas
dinner will include ham. In
my opinion there is nothing
as easy nor tasty. As a tot,
a savory slab of pig was part
of any celebration. Such an
indulgence signified that the
occasion merited an entree
that was different from daily
fare. And fortunately post
repast it became the perfect
fodder for breakfast sides,
sandwiches, and bean soup!
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.
Years ago the majority of America made
the shift 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 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 debris
chipped off the old block and slathered
in mayo. Watch your blood pressure!

Serving a pre-cooked ham is easy.
All that's required is reheating -
nothing more. Of course one can
dress it up by criss-crossing the
exterior with a sharp knife, then
dotting per diamond with a clove,
covering it with a gooey glaze,
and artfully placing pineapple
rings in a decorative pattern. It's
almost idiot proof! Imagine that?
It's time that we restore ham back to
it's rightful as a culinary star. We all
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 party -
serve up a slab of old fashioned cured

NOTE: Due to the holiday rush, the above blog is an updated version
of one entitled "I ham what I am" and published on December 23, 2013.