Last week, we did an Instagram Live with chef/owner Matt Abdoo of NYC’s Pig Bleecker and Pig Beach. A veteran of notable fine dining establishments around the city, Abdoo’s solo ventures are lower-key and higher flavor. Why? They involve a ton of smoke, owing to Matt’s life-changing journeys around the American south. Both Pig restaurants feature a wealth of house-smoked heritage meats and meticulously sourced charcuterie, like the country ham on the boards at Pig Bleecker (and the ones he brought to carve with us). As you can see below, country ham makes everything a little better.
Country ham is America’s version of Italian prosciutto or Spanish jamón. It’s enjoying a renaissance in restaurants across the country on a path formidably blazed by Southern chefs, producers and purveyors. As Matt said, these hams run under a hundred dollars each, as opposed to the $300-400 you’ll spend for a comparable leg of prosciutto or jamón. Looking for the perfect gift for the salt-loving carnivore in your life? Here are five excellent names to seek out.
As with so many country ham producers, Finchville Farms started 75 years ago in a Kentucky general store. Founder William H. Robertson also served as the town’s mailman, so it wasn’t long before mail met ham and Finchville’s mail-order ham business was born. You can buy whole and sliced cooked and cured country hams via their website. Don’t miss the “biscuit slices.”
Famous for their sugar-cured country hams, Turner ships gift boxes loaded with not only the sweet and salty stuff but all the accoutrements. Think jams, honeys, biscuit mixes, hot sauces and everything else you could possibly need to enjoy country ham to the best of your ability.
Perhaps the best-known country ham producer, Tennessee’s Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams. They sell whole and sliced aged smoked and unsmoked cured hams, as well as some of the best hickory-smoked bacon you’ll ever eat. While you’re shopping, buy a T-shirt and let the world know how you really feel about ham.
We have a tender spot in our hearts for Edwards ham. Sam Edwards III is a 3rd-generation cure-master, and his peanut-finished pigs make some of the best country ham we’ve ever had. In addition to selling their award-winning hams and bacon online, you can also pick up sausages, smoked poultry, sweet potato biscuits and gift packs with awesome names like “A Tale of Two Hams” and “Smoked Perfection Collection.”
Kentucky-based Father’s has been producing old-school country hams since 1840. They’re so proud of their wares that their toll-free number is (877) 525-HAMS. And now that you have it, you can use it to order such delights as thick-sliced Cajun bacon, ham jerky, summer sausage, cracklins, hock and other seasoning meat.