Country Ham

story28
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Country Ham

Post by story28 » Sun Jun 03, 2012 03:35

I have been strapping in for the long haul of making my first country hams. I start one about every two weeks and have been treating each one differently as I do more and more research. After a brief :oops: scroll through the pages, I noticed that we do not have a page on the forum.

If you take a look at this link provided by our companion site, there is a great explanation of the process.

http://www.wedlinydomowe.com/hams-other-meats/country

Notice the first ripening temperature "77F - 86F"

However, notice that under Mr. Benton's ripening procedure, it simply says aged in the smokehouse.

Now, take a look at this video below. This looks like a skwaky teenager, but listen to what he has to say - there are a few secrets and tips. I was surprised to hear the ripening temperature. Also, take a look at where the hams in the video are cut compared to those of Mr. Benton.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuONIpsIOXk

I'm not going to bog everyone down with information now, but I thought I could get this discussion in the mix so we can all share our experiences and learn a little more than we did before about America's "prosciutto". When you factor in the cost of at LEAST $500 for a prosciutto leg vs. a $70 country ham, the value component really make me wonder which is better.

Last, here are two videos of each of the producers I mentioned - Mr. Rice and Mr. Benson

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=BdR ... =endscreen

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rbeIiFITfQ
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Post by ssorllih » Sun Jun 03, 2012 04:16

I haven't ever seen country ham very thinly sliced as is prosciutto. But I haven't sampled much country ham either.
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Post by Butterbean » Sun Jun 03, 2012 05:24

I think the boy in the video got a little confused. I think what he meant to say was - they are not cooked - but stay are put in the smokehouse after they cure to equilize and bloom. Some believe that the hotter the summer the better the ham this is why many will hang them in their attics. I tend to agree with this. Kept a ham in my attic for two years and it had that wonderful nutty flavor when I finally remembered it was up there. Was a pain to slice though. But some don't like this nutty flavor.

I normally don't slice them real thin and mainly use them for seasoning. If I want an eating ham I tend to go with the city hams. But, sometimes I will slice it thin just for the heck of it.

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Post by Chuckwagon » Sun Jun 03, 2012 07:20

Good lookin' stuff Beano! As ol' Buddy Ebsen would have said.... "Wheee Doggie"! :roll:
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably needs more time on the grill! :D
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Post by nuynai » Sun Jun 03, 2012 16:48

This question is for those beyond my pay grade. Just to clarify for safety reasons, is the bone left in or taken out before the process is started. Seems everything I've read, the area around the bone is the best/worst place for the ham to go bad. Story, thanks for the post and keep up the good work.
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Post by redzed » Sun Jun 03, 2012 20:09

Interesting thread. I did a bit more searching and learned a bit more about this very natural process. Never even heard about American Country hams before. Will have to do a taste test when the opportunity arises.
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Post by Butterbean » Sun Jun 03, 2012 22:55

Nuynai, most times you leave the bone in and you are right this is the cause of most failures but this isn't often. They are really easy to do. If I plan on slicing it thin I typically will debone the ham. To reduce the risk of bone sour you can inject some brine along the bone area. This will give you some insurance. IMO - I can't really tell any difference in real proscuitto I've tasted and a country ham.

Here is how I typically cut it with the bone in. This one was aged in the attic and is about 2 years old. I doused it good with pepper to keep some of the critters off of it. It tasted pretty good and wasn't near as dry as you might expect.

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If you are interested in this type american ham I'd suggest googling under Kentucky Ham or Virginia Hams. These are the most famous but these were made all through the south for years. Some of the "purists" will say these are not safe to eat without cooking while proscuitto is. I guess these opponents have a case cause all the people who ate these raw two hundred years ago are now dead. :roll:
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Post by story28 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 01:05

Thanks for the nice words Nuynai and great looking work BB.

I got the urge today and decided that we are going to transform our 8x8 shed into a country ham hut. I will be sure to share my experiences with everyone. I think we are going to start out with about 40-50 hams and let those go until early Spring next year and stock back up.

Anyways, here are a few more links I came across late last night. The first grey haired Frenchman, Eric Ripert, owns one of the best restaurants in Manhattan (or even the U.S. for that matter).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1UDkleG2mQ

Same producer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abpu5cYB3Tg

This second video seems to be a woodsman sharing his experience.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbiaL62A ... ure=fvwrel

ENJOY!
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Post by ssorllih » Mon Jun 04, 2012 02:24

Jason, With our very small consumtion would it be reasonable to simply treat just one of the large muscles in a ham as country ham and use the rest otherwise?
You know that the definition of eternity is two people and a whole ham?
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Post by Butterbean » Mon Jun 04, 2012 04:35

40-50 :shock:
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Post by story28 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 17:48

Hi Ross,

You certainly could try it, but you would have to make some modifications to the procedure. I suppose your end result would have some similarities to coppa or culatello.

First, you would definitely want to cut down the salt time a bit because the skin and shank bone impede salt penetration. I wish I could give you that ratio, but I think if you followed a whole muscle cure time frame, such as a coppa - you would be ok. You also might want to age at a lower temperature and humidity because you won't have that protective skin sheath around the ham. Aging at higher temperatures will cause it to dry too fast, the sugar in the formula could make things get funky with those substantially high conditions found in country ham. On the plus side, though, your product will finish much faster
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Post by story28 » Tue Jun 05, 2012 16:42

Brewoz
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Post by Brewoz » Sat Jun 09, 2012 16:16

On my to do list.
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Post by Baconologist » Wed Jun 13, 2012 03:10

Here's another video of Benton's Country Hams....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6LHOpk8XoE

I've had their ham, bacon and smoked country sausage packed in cloth casings.
It's all excellent!
I get a shipment of country ham and bacon every year for my birthday.
Godspeed!

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Post by Cabonaia » Fri Jun 15, 2012 01:50

story28 wrote:I got the urge today and decided that we are going to transform our 8x8 shed into a country ham hut. I will be sure to share my experiences with everyone. I think we are going to start out with about 40-50 hams and let those go until early Spring next year and stock back up.
Oh my! Keep the varmints out! Where I live, a pack of coons would work all night every night until they found a way into that shed!
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