Ham is Where the Heart Is

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When we talk about Country Ham, these are cured hams, traditionally dry-cured in a mixture of salt, sugar, and other seasonings then smoked and aged. Now it sounds simple enough, but creating amazing hams is a labor of love that starts with great pork and tradition, then meticulous hands-on care, and finishes with what I can only imagine is a lot of patience. From Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, respectively, these three producers are following through on that labor of love for sure.

Edwards Virginia Smokehouse – In 1925, Sam Wallace Edwards was the ferry captain for the route over the James River in Surry County Virginia to the Jamestown settlement. Where he also sold his Country Ham in sandwiches for extra income. As appreciation and demand grew for Mr. Edwards’ ham, he eventually made the leap to making and selling his ham full time. Today, the third generation of Wallace’s use Pop Pop’s original recipe and smoking methods perfected 89 years ago. A quintessential dish of the South, Edwards Hickory Smoked Country Hams salt-cured by hand and are smoked with natural hickory wood and aged 6 months to a rich mahogany color. You can find full 2-3 pound petit hams in the Market Department, perfect for a meal up to 20 or sliced in the deli great on biscuits or with a mix of vinegary pickles.

Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams – Allan Benton, a James Beard Award winner, crafts his famous highly smoky, Country Ham with methods he learned as a boy from his grandparents in rural Appalachia, slow-crafting ham with the same quality for over 40 years. Benton’s hams are dry cured by hand, one-at-a-time, then rubbed again a week later with the family cure recipe of salt, brown sugar and red pepper. The hams age in seasonal rooms to evolve the flavor including stacked in the winter room for 2 months, after which time they are shaped and hung in the spring room for 2 months and finally aged 5 to 10 more months in the summer room before being hickory log smoked 24 to 36 hours. You can find thick ham slices in the Market department which are ready to be pan fried for breakfast. The Deli department has this dense ham that resembles Italian Prosciutto with Tennessee characteristic flavor ready to be sliced super thin for your next charcuterie board.

Lady Edison Extra Fancy Country Ham – Chef Sam Suchoff is a renaissance man when it comes to pork. From his Chapel Hill BBQ restaurant, The Pig, to his extra fancy country ham, Lady Edison. He is joining sustainably raised hogs with the ages-old tradition of putting up hams. Sam hand rubs with a dry blend of sea salt and sugar, the hams are stacked for 40 days, allowing the cure to penetrate the meat. Next, the hams are hung in the smokehouse and exposed to a light hickory smoke—imparting signature flavor before the final aging process begins. Aged an average of 18 months, which really allows the the ham to come into its own. These hams are ready to eat and comparable to their Spanish counterpart; with a taste more savory than salty and a supple yet firm texture. Available in the Deli department and sliced to order.