If we had some biscuits . . .

The Better Half used to amuse the kids by looking into the fridge and saying “if we had some ham we could have some ham and eggs if we had some eggs.”  Owing to the fact that I recently returned from a pilgrimage to Tennessee, we had not only ham, but truly amazing country ham. I don’t mean that sweet spiral sliced stuff Yankees eat at Easter. And I don’t mean the peanut-fed, sugar-cured stuff (though it’s also yummy) that borderline southern states serve up and call it country (I’m ducking for cover here now).

No, I mean the tough, salty, leathery, chewy, addictive stuff that is real country ham.

I feel so strongly about authentic country ham that I once did a commentary about it that ran on NPR’s All Things Considered. If you’d like to, you can listen to it here. It’s not very long and it will clue you in if you don’t know what I’m talking about [for the record, I moved away from Tennessee a bit over half my life ago, and I hardly sound southern at all unless

  • I’ve just returned from an extended visit back home
  • I’ve had two cocktails
  • I’m reading out loud (especially, apparently, about country ham]

Anyway, after my most recent trip last month I brought back some from Tennessee for a friend (a fellow traveler in things culinary) who was having a birthday, and some for us. We ate the last batch of it tonight. Here’s some of it cooking in my (great-grandmother’s) cast iron skillet.

And here are the biscuits waiting to be baked.

[Do you think I had biscuits on the brain when I printed this last month?]

And the two together (with a bowl of baked apples on the side).

The ham’s all gone now. We are sated, thirsty (the stuff is powerfully salty), and mighty pleased with ourselves.

Never mind that we totally forgot to cook any eggs.

Must. Go. Drink. More. Water. Now.


2 responses to “If we had some biscuits . . .

  1. My grandfather’s family was in the grocery business in Nashville and Birmingham. One of the great joys of Christmas was when the Nashville uncles would send a “real” Tennessee country ham to the the Alabama cousins. For some reason, my great uncles would always send them too late for my grandmother to cook so she would have to leave it hanging in her pantry all year. By the time I came along, the routine was set and she was serving last years at Christmas. Age only improves the hams – and the year round smell of my grandmother’s pantry is still present in my memory.

    These were the real thing – hams that could not be “sold” across state lines because they were grown, slaughtered and cured by a Tennessee farmer my uncles knew. For those lucky enough to have had it, there’s no way to describe the flavors or textures.

    The USDA has done wonders to keep our meats safe, but I’m afraid they have done little to allow my children and grandchildren to partake of real Tennessee country hams.

  2. Pingback: Tidbits from the blogathon buffet « webb of science

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