Is the ham of my childhood something that can really only exist in memory?

I am 58 this year. (Me, Madonna, Gary Oldman, Sharon Stone, Holly Hunter, Ellen DeGeneres and many more are all having our Beddian Birthdays this year…) When I was a child and a young teen, in the 1960’s and 70’s, my mother would prepare whole hams for holidays.

She purchased these hams at a very high quality butcher located in the Farmer’s Market at 3rd and Fairfax. They were very large, of course, being whole, and complete with rind. They were, I believe, already cooked, but I’m not completely certain about that. In any case, my mother cooked them (again?) in a sooooper low oven for a long time, something like 200 degrees for 10 hours.

What emerged from the oven was, as my father and I often say in fondly reminiscing about them, carnivore nirvana. Pigmeat bliss. She would pull off the skin, (which we would then bake up into amazing cracklins) revealing a thick blanket of exquisite, snowy fat encasing the meat that was flawlessly tender, perfectly seasoned (i.e. salted, but by no measure excessive: Just Right) and so ridiculously delicious you could almost cry.

I have been searching for hams like these for decades now, but so far they remain nothing but a memory.

I keep hoping that somewhere there will be a heritage pork producer that makes hams like these, but I’m told that they really don’t. Because I’ve never heard a good recommend, I’ve never coughed up the rather large $$ to see for myself. But I’ve looked at the marketing materials with photos and they don’t really look like the nice fatty hams of yore.

So does anyone know of any heritage pork producers that are making hams that sound something like this?

Sounds like what we call “gammon” here, maybe look for that. There’s technically a difference between gammon and ham (cured on the bone vs off it) but what you’ve just described is the gammon we have every Christmas.

The boneless, water-and-preservative injected hunks of protein that pass as hams in the supermarket nowadays are an abomination! I remember actually having to chew the ham I had as a kid, and the bones added exquisite flavor as the ham baked.

Sometimes “progress” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be! :mad: :frowning:

In the US, I don’t believe we have anything called gammon, at least in everyday parlance. So far as I know, there’s no such distinction here, it’s all ham. You might get on-the-bone and boned variants, they may be dry cured or wet cured, they may be pre cooked or raw, but they’re all ham.

To add to the above, you might want to look for a ham known as a “city ham,” which is dry cured and bone-in. (Although if you’ve been looking at heritage pork producers, you’ve probably already come across them.)

I was just thinking something in the same vein this morning as summer starts. When I lived in Denver I had some Samoan neighbors who would have spring party with a whole roast pig. It was some heritage breed they drove halfway across Nebraska to pick up. No curing, but roasted all day in a pit in the ground, it was so freakin good. Made what passes for supermarket pork seem like bland industrial protein #12.

Thinking about it makes me really wish I was in that house. :frowning:

I live in East Central Missouri and it’s somewhat easy to get fresh pork from a farmer, or suckling pig if you prefer. He may or may not clean and butcher it for you. If not, there are plenty of local meat processors. A slow cooked suckling pig is to die for.

Is thisthe kind of thing you are looking for?

A whole city ham (country ham is the kind that is dry-cured in salt and needs to be soaked first before cooking/reheating; since you didn’t mention soaking I’m thinking it’s the city ham you want) might be available from a specialty butcher if you’ve got one in your area.

:smack: I’m a moron, or need my morning coffee. I meant “country ham” here, but I agree that what you’re describing is most similar to a city ham.

This may be of interest to some:

NB: Part 2 should come up immediately after this one ends; if not, it should be near the top of the column. Just click on it to hear the second part of the presentation.