|This is a salt-cured country ham. |
It has been preserved in a commercial Appalachian-style process.
Such a ham is perhaps an acquired taste, but is richly flavorful nonetheless, and much beloved by many people.
|Here you see the reverse view of the same ham. |
Shown here is the outside of the hog's leg, showing the larger portion of skin on it.
|The next step is to cut away the naturally occurring mold on the outside surfaces of the ham. |
These fungi are harmless, and do not indicate that the ham is ruined;
to the contrary, a fully processed ham always shows signs of mold on it.
|Also to be removed are layers of the outer fat, turned dark with age and the natural preservatives.|
|Here you see the ham, skin removed, outer layers of fat cleaned away.|
|Standing the ham up on its straighter edge, use the pressure of your thumb to locate the stifle joint (the joint which folds to point forward as the hog takes a step). |
Once you've located the center of that joint, use a sharp blade of sufficient size to slice down and through the joint capsule, severing it.
This is what it should look like once the first, main cut is made.
The next cut is made by standing the ham on its top, so the long bone is pointing upward.
Along the side of the bone nearest the first cut made, slice downward to that original cut.
The result of the second cut is shown above.
This is the section, cut so, from which the most attractive slices are eventually produced.
|These are the lovely slices from the first section removed. |
These are the slices one usually sees when dining in a good restaurant.
|After the first section is removed, we proceed to slice again along the long bone of the hog's shank, to the side of the original long cut. This produces a somewhat triangular section that will be repeated in mirror image on the other side of the bone.|
|This image was provided mostly to illustrate the kind of knives best to use on such a job.|
Other cuts are shown for comparison.
|Here is an small heap of triangular 'biscuit pieces'; |
these were sliced from the second and third sections removed from the ham.
|One of the last jobs to be done includes removal of the pelvic section |
from the longer bones of the leg.
It's best to use a sturdy knife, a sharp one such as this chef's knife,
and as always, it's very important to remember the safety rules
of handling knives throughout the entire job.
|Almost nothing is wasted; less than a pound of discard material is removed from a ham of approximately sixteen pounds total. |
Shown here is the shank and pelvic section of the ham, which will be used to cook with green beans, soup beans (brown or white) or similar, or with potatoes. (Of course, the traditional cornbread will accompany those dishes.)
Some meat has been deliberately left on the bones to provide a very solid and real supplement to the meal.
|Here we have a view of the completed job, ready to store for later use.|
Now what we need is a good hot batch of buttermilk biscuits, some sawmill gravy and a little red-eye gravy, a good amount of stout fine coffee, and a few fried eggs. Enjoy!