As a rule, buying local is better. The food is fresher, healthier and often more flavorful. Cured ham, however, is the exception.
Just like Bourbon and wine, climate plays a crucial role in aging, and salted pork legs tend do best in humid, warmer regions, like the upper South, southern Italy and Spain.
Like many, you may look upon American ham as the country cousin to the more haute and costly European meats, like prosciutto and jamón Iberico. If that’s the case, you’ve just been buying from the wrong charcutier—something top chefs have long understood. (Chef David Chang’s Momofuku in New York famously only serves ham—sliced see-through thin—from America’s top artisanal purveyors.)
And while it might seem weird to have your Easter feast FedEx-ed, these ham pros have mastered the art of shipping their succulent stuff.
The Ham: Traditional City Ham
The Ham: Old Fashioned Bone-In Ham
The Ham: Whole Hickory Smoked Country Ham
Col. Newsom’s Aged Kentucky Country Ham
The Ham: Whole Country Ham (Cooked)
Artisan charcutiers are geniuses at curing pork, but in terms of the glaze they include, you may be better off making your own. Here’s a quick and delicious recipe.
½ ham (6–8 pounds)
1 2-liter bottle of Coke, divided
1 cup dark brown sugar
1½ tablespoons dry mustard powder
¼ cup Bacardi 8 Años Rum
Juice of 1 lime
Preheat oven to 325˚F.
Place ham on rack in roasting pan. Pour 4 cups of cola into pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, reduce 3 cups of cola over medium-high heat until syrupy (yields ½ cup). Stir in brown sugar, mustard powder, rum and lime juice.
Raise oven heat to 425˚F. Meanwhile, discard foil and make shallow cross-hatch cuts over surface of ham. Using a pastry brush, cover ham with cola glaze and bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the ham’s internal temperature is 140˚F. Brush on additional glaze every 10–15 minutes during cooking. Serve with the pan’s juices.
Pairing Your Pork
Ham is a tidal wave of salty, rich and smoky succulence so to balance it requires low tannins and loads of fresh fruit. For reds, try Beaujolais, Frappato or Russian River Pinot Noir. For whites, Grüner Veltliner, off-dry Riesling or even Sauternes can be unexpectedly refreshing. For sparklings, try rosé or Lambrusco.