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ISO :: THE BEST HAM AND BACON IN THE WORLD

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Fleur Dec 1, 2006 08:01 AM

I am trying to find the best ham and bacon available. I got a catalog from EARLY'S and it looks good, but I have no idea which is the best.

We ordered the GREENBERG Smoked Turkey last year on a tip from CH and we absolutely loved it, and are ordering again this year.

Any other great catalog or web sources are welcome.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. Karl S RE: Fleur Dec 1, 2006 10:51 AM

    What kind of ham: wet cured or country? Makes a huge difference. A lot of people think they love country ham but don't.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Karl S
      chicgail RE: Karl S Mar 21, 2007 09:33 AM

      Wow, those are distinctions I don't have. Can someone explain the differences to a northern city girl?

    2. r
      redleo_81 RE: Fleur Dec 1, 2006 01:47 PM

      We had the best serrano ham in Granada, Spain this past year.

      1. c
        cheryl_h RE: Fleur Dec 1, 2006 02:13 PM

        Jamon iberico is supposed to be available in the US this year. I haven't seen it yet, but I'd look for that.

        1. p
          pp48 RE: Fleur Dec 1, 2006 03:21 PM

          I think that Karl S question is very important. I have tried several styles of ham and realized that even the most highly rated country hams are too salty or strong for me. Same with bacon.

          I have been happy with some of the styles of ham and bacon that I got from Burgers Smokehouse. One of the advantages that they have is that you can buy say a couple of slices of country ham steaks, city ham steaks and various styles of bacon and see for your self what you would like.

          PP48

          6 Replies
          1. re: pp48
            Karl S RE: pp48 Dec 1, 2006 03:57 PM

            The next question is "best ham for what purpose".

            Jamon iberico is probably the "finest" artisanal ham, even superior to Parma or San Daniele ham. But you wouldn't eat a slab of it as a main course for dinner. Ditto most country hams: they are so intense that they are more often eaten in small portions.

            I very much second the kudos for Burgers Smokehouse for its hound-friendly approach to learning what you might like and not like.

            1. re: pp48
              therealbigtasty RE: pp48 Dec 4, 2006 01:16 AM

              Country ham really isn't something to be eaten on it's own without quite a bit of preparation. However, after preparation I've had some really good country ham. There's a whole lot of boiling and water changes involved...

              Then it's tasted pretty good when I've had it.

              1. re: therealbigtasty
                Will Owen RE: therealbigtasty Dec 4, 2006 05:52 PM

                Serious country-ham freaks will argue that point with you; to them, the best way to eat it is to cut off a slice and cook it in a skillet, then make red-eye gravy and eat it with grits, biscuits and eggs. I agree, it is pretty salty and stout that way. I much prefer it boiled and baked myself.

                I have used raw country ham as a substitute for prosciutto, and like that much better than when it's fried from raw. I've devised a dish I call Tennessee Straw & Hay, basically white and green fettucini with slivers of sauteéd country ham, onion, mushrooms and peas in a cream reduction. Pretty good.

                1. re: Will Owen
                  therealbigtasty RE: Will Owen Dec 5, 2006 01:20 AM

                  That's pretty intense. I slice it off and use it for seasoning, but could never just eat it by itself unless it's had some of the salt out of it.

                  But a good American country ham is a really amazing thing.

                  What about sausage gravy and biscuits, I wonder?

                  I'm going to make a post.

                  1. re: therealbigtasty
                    j
                    jeanmarieok RE: therealbigtasty Nov 4, 2008 11:10 AM

                    We pick up an Edwards boneless country ham about this time every year, and it keeps us in ham biscuits well into the next year. Yes, it's salty, but it's supposed to be.

                  2. re: Will Owen
                    c
                    carbonaraboy RE: Will Owen Aug 29, 2009 04:51 AM

                    Good one, Will. Also try Spaghetti Carbonara (what a surprise) with julienned unsmoked country ham. The extra saltiness is an asset.

                    Both Burger's Smokehouse and Benton's have unsmoked versions.

                    The cob smoked bacon from Harrington's and Lawrence's (both in VT) is really awesome, especially thickly sliced, but I'm not a big fan of their hams (brined):

                    http://www.lawrencessmokeshop.com/

                    --Rich

              2. n
                Nancy Berry RE: Fleur Dec 1, 2006 04:25 PM

                I really like Nueske's apple-smoked bacon, particularly their pepper-coated bacon. And if you like fully-cooked rather than country hams, then Nueske's ham is quite good.

                http://www.nueskes.com

                3 Replies
                1. re: Nancy Berry
                  Atomica RE: Nancy Berry Dec 2, 2006 12:18 PM

                  Is Nueske's sold anywhere in SF?

                  1. re: Atomica
                    n
                    Nancy Berry RE: Atomica Dec 2, 2006 04:29 PM

                    Yes. Golden Gate Meats in the Ferry Building sells Nueske's bacon. I don't think that they sell the pepper bacon, though.

                    1. re: Atomica
                      b
                      baltodog RE: Atomica Dec 12, 2006 06:12 AM

                      You can get Nueske's by mail order.

                  2. kare_raisu RE: Fleur Dec 1, 2006 05:37 PM

                    What about Yunnan Ham? I know little about it.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: kare_raisu
                      pilinut RE: kare_raisu Dec 10, 2006 06:11 AM

                      I don't think you can get it legally here. In some places outside the U.S., you can buy tins of thinly sliced Yunnan Ham--or what claims to be Yunnan Ham. Chinese restaurants here use Smithfield-syle hams in much the same way.

                      1. re: pilinut
                        kare_raisu RE: pilinut Dec 10, 2006 02:30 PM

                        Pilinut, have you bought this ersatz canned version? Is it any good?

                        1. re: kare_raisu
                          pilinut RE: kare_raisu Dec 10, 2006 06:20 PM

                          Is it good? Let's say convenience is its selling point.

                          Maybe the tins I had were a bit old, but there was a slight metallic taste you don't get from canned ham. But then, you'll have thin, easy to sliver slices of canned ham, vs. having to take a whole log of ham down to the lumber yard.

                          1. re: pilinut
                            missclaudy RE: pilinut Dec 10, 2006 11:50 PM

                            Hilarious! There is NO end to pork lust on chowhound. Check out my posts on "Do you have any Cooking projects currently underway?" on the Home Cooking board. Think you'll get a kick out of them.I reported on buying a whole pig with a few friends and the joy, cooking and fun that ensued.

                    2. Candy RE: Fleur Dec 1, 2006 05:40 PM

                      Harrington's in Shelburne Vt. has excellent cob smoked bacon and hams among other wonderful items.

                      1. c
                        CDouglas RE: Fleur Dec 1, 2006 05:50 PM

                        Niman Ranch applewood smoked, uncured bacon has got to be my favorite. Their slab bacon is great as well.

                        HoneyBaked ham, while not as exclusive and "gourmet" as many others, gets entirely devoured whenever I serve it. That is testimonial enough for me.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: CDouglas
                          Karl S RE: CDouglas Dec 1, 2006 06:00 PM

                          I much prefer Welshire Farms center-cut bacon to Niman Ranch; the latter is fine, but I think WF's CC is better.

                          1. re: Karl S
                            c
                            CDouglas RE: Karl S Dec 1, 2006 06:11 PM

                            Sounds good. WF has been added to my ever increasing "to eat" list.

                            I could not tell from the website: is their bacon smoked?

                            1. re: CDouglas
                              Karl S RE: CDouglas Dec 1, 2006 06:18 PM

                              No, that CC select bacon is simply dry rubbed (a no-nitrate cure, in essence), IIRC. I, along with many others, find Nueske's and some Southern country bacons too smoked. I find Niman Ranch's smoke is hardly discernible, by contrast.

                              1. re: Karl S
                                Will Owen RE: Karl S Dec 2, 2006 04:27 AM

                                Which is why I much prefer a Southern dry-cured bacon, such as Early's. De gustibus non est disputandem; or, in other words, ya can't fight over matters of taste. I happen to like the smokey flavor, and I really want my cured meats to be dry-cured, which is why I will not get Nueske's stuff. If I were back in Nashville I'd go and get Mayo's country bacon at my old neighborhood grocery, but I'm not. So I'll order Early's from the catalog.

                                1. re: Karl S
                                  Karl S RE: Karl S Dec 3, 2006 10:57 AM

                                  CORRECTION: It's applewood smoked, too.

                                  1. re: Karl S
                                    pitu RE: Karl S Dec 6, 2006 02:33 PM

                                    Wellshire Farms Dry Rubbed Center Cut (Applewood smoked or otherwise) is great stuff. They also make tukey bacon, but I haven't tried it...

                                    It's pretty widely available in NYC.

                              2. re: Karl S
                                m
                                magfitz RE: Karl S Dec 1, 2006 08:15 PM

                                I think the Welshire Farms is the one that we get. It's a nice thick center cut. I don't go out of my way to find different kinds of bacon to eat but this one is my favorite.

                              3. re: CDouglas
                                f
                                Fleur RE: CDouglas Dec 1, 2006 08:41 PM

                                I have heard good things about Honeybaked Ham. What do you recommend?

                                1. re: Fleur
                                  c
                                  CDouglas RE: Fleur Dec 2, 2006 12:32 AM

                                  We usually buy just the ham from one of their brick and mortar stores but have purchased the "Southern Hospitality" package from the web and it was very well received.

                                  1. re: Fleur
                                    Karl S RE: Fleur Dec 4, 2006 05:59 PM

                                    Honey Baked has brand recognition. It's OK, but it's not the "best" by any stretch of the imagination. Save your money and buy a Kirkland house brand spiral-sliced ham at Costco if that's what you'd prefer.

                                2. h
                                  houndgirl RE: Fleur Dec 1, 2006 05:56 PM

                                  I can highly recommend all the bacons from the Grateful Palate's "Bacon of the Month" Club. The Gatton Farms is my absolute favorite, tho. Intensely smoky. When you make it for breakfast, your house will smell like bacon all day.

                                  www.gratefulpalate.com

                                  Click on the bacon icon!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: houndgirl
                                    c
                                    condiment RE: houndgirl Dec 1, 2006 07:12 PM

                                    You can get the Gatton Farms bacon - a/k/a Fathers Bacon - directly from the producer at www.fatherscountryhams.com. Amazing stuff, but not for those disinclined towards salt and smoke. (And I would avoid the flavored bacons if I were you.) Their country ham is also one of the finest in America.

                                  2. s
                                    swarttav RE: Fleur Dec 1, 2006 08:26 PM

                                    I have been working my way through the various smokehouses for bacon. So far my top 3 are:
                                    For bacon and country ham
                                    https://bentonshams.com/order/index.php
                                    http://store.fatherscountryhams.com/ - especially the pepper bacon and
                                    for just bacon (pepper is better, but all are good
                                    )http://www.nueskes.com/index.cfm

                                    All are dry cured - Benotns and Fathers are hickory smoked; Nueskes is apple smoked

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: swarttav
                                      Will Owen RE: swarttav Dec 2, 2006 04:29 AM

                                      I looked at the Nueske's bacon at our local Gelson's, and the first ingredient was water. Where are you finding dry-cured?

                                      1. re: Will Owen
                                        s
                                        swarttav RE: Will Owen Dec 2, 2006 01:34 PM

                                        Hey Will - You are right - I checked their web site and it does not say dry cured - although the other 2 I menitioned are. I apparently made an error when I entered the data into my bacon diary - sorry. It is still very good, though

                                        1. re: swarttav
                                          c
                                          condiment RE: swarttav Dec 2, 2006 05:07 PM

                                          Nueske's is distinctly a wet cure, and does not have the characteristically intense dry-cure taste. But it is smoked for a full 24 hours, and the water tends to render out during the process - the shrinkage in the pan is actually less than that of a lot of dry-cure bacons.

                                          1. re: swarttav
                                            missclaudy RE: swarttav Dec 11, 2006 12:14 AM

                                            I love a person with a bacon diary!!!!

                                        2. re: swarttav
                                          j
                                          Jambalaya RE: swarttav Dec 2, 2006 04:45 PM

                                          I was cruising this posting looking for a mention of Bentons since I just had a piece of their ham for breakfast. First I should say these are very nice people. I ordered a small package of the ham just to taste and they sent bacon instead. When I called them up about it they fell all over themselves apologizing several times. Even after I told them it was no big deal since this was not a gift and I was only sampling. They sent the ham in a couple days and told me to keep the bacon free of charge.

                                          Now to the ham itself. I cooked it the way they recommended, in a skillet with some coffee and a pinch of sugar. As some posters mentioned above it was pretty salty, but not too bad. I was looking for a more smokey flavour. I removed the ham from the skillet, sauteed some onions, added some flour then deglazed with milk to make a gravy for my biscuits then added the chopped ham back in. I have to say the only flavour I could really taste was salt. I don't plan to order the larger ham but I am looking forward to trying the bacon. It should also be mentioned this ham requires cooking, not my preference and I missed this detail when reviewing the info on the site.

                                        3. f
                                          Finndorf RE: Fleur Dec 2, 2006 03:38 PM

                                          Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams
                                          2603 Highway 411 N.
                                          Madisonville, TN 37354

                                          http://www.diaryofafoodie.org/episode...

                                          1. b
                                            birddog RE: Fleur Dec 2, 2006 04:45 PM

                                            My favorite smoked ham ever was from Kurowycky Meat Products, 124 1st Ave, NY.

                                            http://sausagenyc.com/

                                            The best. I heard once that Glenn Close gives these as Christmas gifts. Don't know if that's true. But they're gooood, like stand around the kitchen and carve off pieces for nibbling good.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: birddog
                                              e
                                              emilief RE: birddog Dec 2, 2006 06:53 PM

                                              I have an article that I cut out of some paper a long time ago about Kurowycky and it sounds terrific. However, they do not mail- theyonly deliver locally. Sigh!

                                              1. re: emilief
                                                b
                                                birddog RE: emilief Dec 3, 2006 07:19 PM

                                                it's worth the trip! wait til you smell that store. just put in on your list for the next time you're in NY...

                                                1. re: birddog
                                                  Infomaniac RE: birddog Dec 4, 2006 08:37 PM

                                                  I've had my parents who live in Bayside pick me up smoked ham from Kurowycky's and I've driven from Boston to pick it up.
                                                  I'm tempted now to get my nose in that store.

                                              2. re: birddog
                                                Joe MacBu RE: birddog Dec 7, 2006 03:34 AM

                                                Is this a city ham offered at Kurowycky? Does it still have the skin and fat? Do they sell a half ham, and what's the price per pound?

                                                1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                  b
                                                  birddog RE: Joe MacBu Dec 7, 2006 11:55 AM

                                                  I'm not sure what a city ham is. But it still has the skin and fat. Yes, they sell a half ham, either butt or shank end (is that the proper terminology?). Details on the cooking process and price on their website. 1/2 ham about $40.

                                                  http://sausagenyc.com/products.html

                                                  1. re: birddog
                                                    Joe MacBu RE: birddog Dec 8, 2006 04:49 AM

                                                    A city ham is wet-cured (brined), whereas a country ham is dry-cured with a salt rub and hung to air dry. The description on the website leads me to think that it's a country ham.

                                                    Did you find it to be quite salty, as most country hams are?

                                                    I'm basically looking for a good ham in NYC to serve as a main entree, which usually tend to be city hams because they're less salty and can be cut into thick slices. A country ham that's salty has to be cut thinner and isn't usually served as a main dish. Any tips?

                                                    1. re: Joe MacBu
                                                      b
                                                      birddog RE: Joe MacBu Dec 9, 2006 04:03 PM

                                                      No, I didn't find it salty. That's what converted my family. If you're in NY, I think you should go and try some; ask for a taste. As I mentioned to Fleur, below, it's neither watery nor salty. I think Kurowycky is a no-brainer. I don't live in the city, and I would drive in just to pick one up, an hour drive each way. I've done it before, and I'll do it again!

                                                2. re: birddog
                                                  Brian S RE: birddog Dec 13, 2006 04:24 PM

                                                  There's been a long and informative thread on the Outer Boroughs board on Polish butchers in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Most of them have ham and some of them might do mail orders.

                                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/349663

                                                3. f
                                                  Fleur RE: Fleur Dec 5, 2006 09:49 PM

                                                  How is this ham different from the varieties found at the butcher, or at places like Balducci, Dean and DeLuca and Garden of Eden?

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Fleur
                                                    Joe MacBu RE: Fleur Dec 20, 2006 03:43 PM

                                                    There's an article in today's NY Times about hams in NYC.
                                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/20/din...

                                                  2. b
                                                    birddog RE: Fleur Dec 7, 2006 01:34 AM

                                                    It's in a class of its own, really. It's the polar opposite of any watery or salty smoked ham you've ever had. I can honestly say that it was superlative. I can take-or-leave a ham and cheese sandwich, and I don't like the baked ham with pineapple and maraschino cherry. nor did my family. This ham converted them all. The reason it lasted so long in our house a few christmases ago was because it happened to share the table with a 20 lb turkey. The positive result was that the ham found its way into breakfast with eggs, sliced into steaks, homemade hash, sandwiches with mustard, and eventually a killer pot of pea soup. Although I've been tempted to try an upscale grocery ham, I've resisted. I've been spoiled by Kurowycky. Did I mention that their kielbasa is also really good?

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: birddog
                                                      pitu RE: birddog Dec 8, 2006 12:00 PM

                                                      mmmm Kurowycky
                                                      One of the things I miss about living in the East Village is that place

                                                      the bacon is fabulous too - they slice it there

                                                    2. n
                                                      niki rothman RE: Fleur Dec 8, 2006 01:04 PM

                                                      Coincidentally, I just watched America's Test Kitchen doing a bacon taste test. The winner: Niman Ranch. And I have to agree. It's thick, not too salty (which was a problem with one nominee). I use it myself. The number 2 choice was Neuske's, a mail order, which they said was too intensely smoky. Their quibble with it, and with Niman, was price - both were around $8 #. They said that the supermarket brand, Anderson's, was actually going to be the default winner based on being quite a bit cheaper. BUT, they did not mention my own particular issue about bacon - preservatives.

                                                      So, except for my personal knowledge that Niman has no preservatives, you won't know whether the others have preservatives or not. I just feel that with our society being increasingly subject to pollutants and chemicals (that aren't helping your health) because of loosening or eliminating consumer food related protections, I want to eliminate stuff like preservatives where it is easy to do so. And Niman Ranch meats are becoming very widely available (Safeway even!). I think their no-preservative hams are perfectly delicious too. And they have virtually no waste, and just the right amount of sweetness & smokiness. And treatment of the animals - it matters to some folks, and does not matter to others, but Niman follows a strict policy of humane treatnebt of animals and not feeding them chemicals.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: niki rothman
                                                        Will Owen RE: niki rothman Dec 11, 2006 07:06 PM

                                                        Trader Joe's has Niman Ranch bacon in both dry-cured and uncured versions for under $5. I just wish they carried the slab bacon as well, but I guess that doesn't fit in so well with their demographic.

                                                        I love every Niman Ranch product I've tried, and very much admire their sustainable-farming practices. I just wish I could afford more of their stuff, but my budget precludes that: even when they have a sale, it's still like $40 or more for a pork roast or leg of lamb, and I just can't handle that.

                                                        1. re: niki rothman
                                                          c
                                                          condiment RE: niki rothman Dec 12, 2006 05:36 AM

                                                          Niman's pork is admirable, but their smoking and curing is pretty substandard. Compared to Nueske's or the great southern dry-rub bacons, it is pretty insipid stuff.

                                                          The role of preservatives in bacon has been overstated, I think. The smoking and the salting are the major preservative processes. The tiny, tiny amount of sodium nitrite that good producers add to their cure basically just helps the salt penetrate the meat a little faster. What you give up when you eliminate the preservative is any chance for a decent color, shelflife, or developed flavor.

                                                          1. re: condiment
                                                            Will Owen RE: condiment Dec 21, 2006 11:19 PM

                                                            I agree about Niman's curing. The bacon itself cooks beautifully, nice and stout and meaty, but the flavor just isn't quite there. OTOH, that blandness makes it pretty good for using it to make larding strips - about six 1/4" strips inserted lengthwise through one of those ultra-lean boneless pork loin roasts makes it not only edible but delicious.

                                                            1. re: Will Owen
                                                              j
                                                              Jesdamala RE: Will Owen Apr 3, 2007 02:05 PM

                                                              I was not impressed with Niman bacon. The flavor isn't there. Sure, we finished it, but nobody in my family was wowed.

                                                        2. b
                                                          birddog RE: Fleur Dec 20, 2006 03:43 PM

                                                          see today's NY Times Dining In section "Fanfare for the City Ham." Good information and sources, and Kurowycky gets a nice mention, and a photo on the front of the section.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: birddog
                                                            Brian S RE: birddog Dec 23, 2006 09:32 PM

                                                            I came here to write about this article and found you and Joe MacBu had already done it. Two Southern aficionados of country ham came to NYC and were enthralled by what they call "city ham" They recommended these places:

                                                            EAST VILLAGE MEAT MARKET 139 Second Avenue (Ninth Street); (212) 228-5590.

                                                            JUBILAT PROVISIONS 608 Fifth Avenue, Park Slope, Brooklyn; (718) 768-9676.

                                                            KARL EHMER QUALITY MEATS 63-35 Fresh Pond Road, Ridgewood, Queens; (718) 456-8100.

                                                            KOGLIN ROYAL HAMS Grand Central Terminal; (212) 499-0725.

                                                            KUROWYCKY MEAT PRODUCTS 124 First Avenue (Seventh Street); (212) 477-0344.

                                                            SCHALLER & WEBER 1654 Second Avenue (86th Street); (212) 879-3047.

                                                            STEVE’S MEAT MARKET 104 Nassau Avenue, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; (718) 383-1780.

                                                            W-NASSAU MEAT MARKET 915 Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint, Brooklyn; (718) 389-6149.

                                                            http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/20/din...

                                                            1. re: Brian S
                                                              Striver RE: Brian S Mar 21, 2007 09:31 AM

                                                              We'e done some cooking recently with Schaller & Weber's double smoked bacon (dry cured, sold by the slab) and found it to be excellent if you're into smokiness - which we most definitely are.

                                                          2. Brian S RE: Fleur Dec 26, 2006 12:56 AM

                                                            Here in Oklahoma, my best friend was preparing Christmas dinner for my family. She got sick and died late on Christmas eve. I didn't care about dinner at all at this point, but one of my mom's nurses lives way in the country near Inola, Oklahoma. It's a Mennonite region, with a few Amish folk (a sect of Mennonites) thrown in. This nurse left her house at midnight and walked down the road to a farm where the family has a small business raising pigs, fed on corn. They kill the pigs and cure the ham, which is fresh and has to be cooked. Anyway, the family was still awake and sold her their last ham. She came to our house and cooked it today. It was perhaps the best ham I've ever eaten (not counting Smithfield, which is totally different). The name of the business is Unrau Locker. (918) 543-8245

                                                            1. Chicago Wine Geek RE: Fleur Mar 19, 2007 10:41 AM

                                                              I just started my search for the best ham. My wife wants ham for Easter. This one looks pretty interesting:

                                                              http://www.kci-com.com/lp/rr/ham/kuro...

                                                              Very pricey though. I might just have to try Kurowycky based on the comments here

                                                              EXCEPT THEY DON'T SHIP! Too bad, they looked awesome.

                                                              6 Replies
                                                              1. re: Chicago Wine Geek
                                                                e
                                                                emilief RE: Chicago Wine Geek Mar 19, 2007 02:23 PM

                                                                When I open the attachment I get the article on hams but cannot open the link to the actual ham that he recommends. Does anyone have a website for the ham and where you can order it???

                                                                1. re: emilief
                                                                  Chicago Wine Geek RE: emilief Mar 21, 2007 07:59 AM

                                                                  Here's the link to order a whole ham:

                                                                  https://www.kcisecure.com/order/alt_f...

                                                                  And here is the link to order a half ham:

                                                                  https://www.kcisecure.com/order/alt_f...

                                                                  1. re: emilief
                                                                    Chicago Wine Geek RE: emilief Mar 21, 2007 08:00 AM

                                                                    I'm such a geek....

                                                                    I got a Rosengarten bone in half ham, 1/2 BBQ Preacher's Ham from Newsom, and 1/2 bone in frm Murcer. Think that's enough for 8???

                                                                  2. re: Chicago Wine Geek
                                                                    m
                                                                    MikeLM RE: Chicago Wine Geek Mar 21, 2007 03:12 PM

                                                                    Geek-
                                                                    For about 15 years I have ordered my Christmas ham from Esicar's Smokehouse in Cape Girardeau, MO. They are a full-service smokehouse with bacon, sausage, and other smoked delicacies. You can find them on the web; they ship year-round.

                                                                    The Xmas hams are smoked and hung starting in July or August and they are most definitely COUNTRY hams- salty, smoky and tough as a drill sergeant's boot. If that ain't your taste, don't do it. It helps to slice it thin. They cure year-round, of course; the regular hams are hung for a couple of months and are not so tough or salty. You can soak them overnight or more to leach out some of the salt. These are still wonderful hams.

                                                                    What you get is not some airy-fairy rotary-sliced hors-d'ouevre: you get the back leg of a hog. With skin. Cooking such a thing requires that it be COMPLETELY submerged in water and simmered for quite a vew hours. This implies one helluva big pot. You need to ask them to cook it for you; they charge just $2, so don't fail to ask them to do it.

                                                                    You warm the whole thing in the oven for several hours to soften things up, then carve off the hide - leaving a moderate layer of fat; groove the fat in a diamond patters, stud with cloves, pour over an orange juice-brown sugar glaze, and bake until warmed through. Then slice VERY thinly (they send complete instructions with every ham) and then you will be sure you have died and gone to heaven. Well, that's what it does for me, but then my family comes from there and did their own slaughtering and curing for several generations, so it may be in my genes.

                                                                    They will sell half-hams, as well. This year, my 16-pound ham was $54, including cooking and shipping. I stripped it down in early Januray, froze it, and am still having country ham sandwiches.

                                                                    1. re: MikeLM
                                                                      Chicago Wine Geek RE: MikeLM Apr 2, 2007 09:42 AM

                                                                      I've got 2 aunts that live in Cape Girardeau. On a visit about 15 years ago, my aunt made a country ham that converted me from hating baked ham, to loving it done like you said.

                                                                      1. re: MikeLM
                                                                        t
                                                                        The Smokehouse RE: MikeLM Jul 13, 2007 09:55 AM

                                                                        MikeLM,
                                                                        Thank you for being such a verbal supporter of the Smokehouse. After 73 years we have decided to close the family business. Our last day of operation will be September 28. For more information check out the article here:
                                                                        http://www.semissourian.com/story/122...
                                                                        Again, thank you for your patronage. It's people like you who made our business a success all these years.

                                                                    2. peekpoke RE: Fleur Mar 27, 2007 01:35 AM

                                                                      My favorite bacon is smoked jowl, sold by Burger's Smokehouse, preferably with rind on (each hunk is like a mini-slab of bacon). It's like BACON+, superb texture in the fat (that sort of sweet crunchy firmness before it's been cooked). The fat is quality enough to eat raw like Italian Lardo. I usually use the rind for soup or beans.

                                                                      http://www.smokehouse.com/burgers.nsf...

                                                                      For City Ham, my favorite regular choice is Niman Ranch which is sold in thick round boneless steaks at Trader Joe's.

                                                                      For sliced ham, I still adore Boar's Head Original Boiled Ham, sliced thin from a freshly opened ham (not old). Easy to come by in New York, but often hard to find around southern california.

                                                                      For holiday ham, my recent favorite is a whole Burger's Southern Smokehouse ham, precooked, unsliced. Suprisingly moist (I've never been able to get a raw country ham to come out as well when I cook it at home). I just warm the precooked ham up like a city ham, but the flavor is much better. Fantastic for leftovers (my wife LOVES sandwiches made with the leftovers so much that we are getting one for Easter even though we had one for Christmas).

                                                                      http://www.smokehouse.com/burgers.nsf...

                                                                      1. n
                                                                        niki rothman RE: Fleur Apr 2, 2007 11:10 AM

                                                                        I just looked at this post for the first time and I'm not going to read the whole thread. So, I wonder if I'm the only person to mention that the BEST ham and bacon in the world, as far as I'm concerned, contains NO nitrates or nitrates. Carcinogenic. I'm sure some will disagree, but in the digestive tract the acids turn these chemicals into nitrosamines with have been shown to be carcinogenic. And also, the best ham and bacon in the world comes from humanely treated piggies - kindness just tastes so good!

                                                                        Is there really delicious ham and bacon out there without preservatives? Yes, there is and not difficult to find either. Trader Joe's, Niman Ranch, and Beeler's for starters. They all have websites. Delicious. Check it out.

                                                                        Also, there's the issue of humane treatment of the piggies. Why not, especially if the price is the same - which it is. Humanely treated meat is not hard to find if you do a little research. Not much. Just a little.

                                                                        So, for me, knowing I'm not eating carcinogenic preservatives and that the piggies that gave their life so I could live are humanely treated, make my ham and bacon taste even better.

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: niki rothman
                                                                          peekpoke RE: niki rothman Apr 2, 2007 06:14 PM

                                                                          I've had the Niman Ranch "uncured" bacon, and I agree with Cook's Illustrated and America's test kitchen. It's awful!

                                                                          I'm a fan of Niman Ranch products, but using concentrated Celery Juice as a source of Nitrates (you thought the "uncured" bacon was nitrate free? Nope!) gives the Bacon a very odd flavor. YUCK!

                                                                          Here is a interesting roundup on Nitrates from Celery Juice (it's Sodium Nitrate):
                                                                          http://onibasu.com/archives/nn/88497....

                                                                          It's apparently a natural source for the same preserving Nitrates, but because it's in Celery Juice instead of a seperate chemical product, they can label the meat as Uncured.

                                                                          1. re: peekpoke
                                                                            n
                                                                            niki rothman RE: peekpoke Apr 3, 2007 08:43 AM

                                                                            I read the information in your link and it seems to be saying that the celery juice when combined with the lactobaccillus which Niman uses to prevent discoloration dissipates any nitrate/nitrite naturally occurring in the celery juice. That is fine with me. At some point you have to decide if you're going to trust a retailer, and barring something more threatening that almost undetectable amounts of nitrous oxide traces remaining in the bacon as a result of this celery juice/yogurt procedure, I will just have to keep enjoying Niman Ranch's bacon. In the interest of full disclosure I'll have to admit I'm a big consumer of nitrous at the dentist when undergoing complicated procedures involving the drill...

                                                                            I love the taste and texture of Niman Ranch bacon. But everybody's taste is different. Frankly, I can't even imagine it provoking a "yuck!" But, chacun a son gout.

                                                                            Lately, I've found myself disagreeing more and more with America's Test Kitchen, whose taste tests I watch pretty religiously. And there seem to be many people here who feel the same way about them. The cookbooks that I own published by ATK where they compare various methods of cooking classic dishes and present the winner are very entertaining for veteran cooks, but novice cooks should not take what they say as gospel truth.

                                                                            1. re: niki rothman
                                                                              Karl S RE: niki rothman Apr 3, 2007 10:37 AM

                                                                              I am underwhelmed by NR bacon in particular, even though I enjoy many of their other products. I much prefer Welshire Farms center cut thick cut.

                                                                              ATK's testing does tend to focus on products that are available to average American consumers, not the gourmand market as such. So they will tend to exclude or minimize the inclusion of items are harder to find - exceptions tend to be made for things that are irreplaceably good. This same principle tends to inform their choice of recipes and methods and tools. They are not Saveur, and don't pretend to be; they are appealing to mid-range American tastes and opportunities. In that light, I think they are doing a much better job than many other competitors (basically anything other than Alton Brown on the Food Network, who actually does similar things in a different way; and a lot of PBS food programming is getting dumbed down, too).

                                                                              1. re: niki rothman
                                                                                peekpoke RE: niki rothman Apr 3, 2007 01:58 PM

                                                                                The lactobaccillus is also added to the Niman ranch meats cured with sodium nitrate (instead of celery juice loaded with "natural" sodium nitrate). If it magically gets rid of the sodium nitrate in the "uncured" bacon, why wouldn't do the same in the "cured" bacon?

                                                                                1. re: peekpoke
                                                                                  peekpoke RE: peekpoke Apr 3, 2007 06:45 PM

                                                                                  Something else occurs to me.... if celery juice (and thereby celery) is loaded with sodium nitrate.

                                                                                  Why isn't anyone concerned about eating nitrates in celery? (vs Bacon for example)

                                                                          2. lulubelle RE: Fleur Apr 2, 2007 12:53 PM

                                                                            How do you feel about a trip to Wisconsin? The Platonic ideal of bacon can be purchased at the Madison farmer's market during the summer, or straight from the source the rest of the year. http://dandgsausageshoppe.com/ This stuff blows the Neiman Ranch bacon out of the water. It's intensely flavored and not fatty. Cooks beautifully, and smells like heaven.

                                                                            1. s
                                                                              swarttav RE: Fleur Apr 6, 2007 12:59 AM

                                                                              I just had a ham that was from a heritage breed. It was a city ham. The flavors were quite complex and it was absolutely the most flavorful ham I have ever had. It came from Flying Pigs farm http://www.flyingpigsfarm.com/ I highly recommend them and their products.

                                                                              1. DockPotato RE: Fleur Apr 6, 2007 06:33 AM

                                                                                The best bacon I ever had was in the UK - it was a widely available Danish bacon.

                                                                                Not particularly spectacular, but my best ever ham was. Ziggy's and Brandt's butchers in Toronto used to sell a dry schenken, but I had the pleasure of the real thing - a chunk made by a boyhood German friend who made his own from pigs he raised. First the ham was cured - sugar and brine, I believe - not sure. Then it was hung and cold smoked for two whole weeks. He made these for friends and each one had the owner's initials carved in the skin - they looked pretty amazing when done hanging on a piece of twine, a dark, blackish-mahogany colour with the initials standing out in slightly lighter tone. The ham then had to be hung for 6 months in a dry, cool place. This one was my brother-in-law's and I scored a nice chunk. It's tough, dry, leathery and meant to be eaten in paper thin slices - very intense, smokey pork taste.

                                                                                1. t
                                                                                  torta basilica RE: Fleur Jul 14, 2007 10:42 AM

                                                                                  The best ham in the world is Iberico from Spain - blows proscuitto away (and I love proscuitto!)

                                                                                  1. h
                                                                                    Helen41 RE: Fleur Nov 4, 2008 11:00 AM

                                                                                    I had a turkey-bacon sandwich with Nueske's bacon on it recently at a grille near my home and it was very good. Its the only time I've ever requested the bacon name from a server. Oddly, when I tried the bacon, separately, later it was a little more pedestrian than I expected, but still quite good. As to ham, a friend from Arkansas sent an Ozark MOuntain smokehouse ham to us last year, and it was really delicious. I'd never heard of it before, but we're going to order one for ourselves this year.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Helen41
                                                                                      v
                                                                                      vtnewbie RE: Helen41 Nov 5, 2008 10:51 AM

                                                                                      Beeler Farms of Iowa. No nitrates or nitrites, just brined and smoked.

                                                                                      The BEST hams and bacon I've ever had though, were homemade from hogs we raised ourselves. Bacon smoked black (over hickory), which when sliced open was white as snow. Sliced thick, fried just to the point of beginning crispness, but not rendered through. Or toss a few slices on top of a pan of maple-and-molasses baked beans. A few patties of fried corn bread, some quick pickles made with fresh cukes from the garden , sliced tomatoes, maybe even an ear or 2 of blister corn, a handful of gravelled taters. Could make you forget you were poor.

                                                                                    2. a
                                                                                      aea6574 RE: Fleur Dec 15, 2008 03:59 PM

                                                                                      Wow, this is a very cool thread. I did not realize there were so many great choices.

                                                                                      I have been going to a place near me called Zingerman's and getting their different bacon and now I have more to find.

                                                                                      Here is a link to the Zingerman's- http://www.zingermans.com/Category.as...

                                                                                      Best regards, tony

                                                                                      1. y
                                                                                        yale RE: Fleur Aug 28, 2009 02:42 PM

                                                                                        Ok I have read this whole thread and I know it's not particularly new but I thought I should weigh in. I love ham. I always wanted to open a store that only sold ham. I have traveled in Spain and spent countless Euros on Pata Negra and Spanish hams made by all sorts of pigs with different colored feet or fed acorns or whatever. I have tried different makers of prosciutto, I have eaten hams smoked over corn cobs from VT. and country hams from North Carolina and Kentucky and from pigs only fed peanuts. But among my favorite hams is this stupidly named but utterly fantastic ham from Edwards in Surray Virginia called Surrayano https://surryfarms.com/Bone-In_Surrya... I know it is expensive. However it's not too salty, it is very smokey and sliced thin, basically tastes as if pork were pork butter. Dry aged 400 days, you are paying for quality.

                                                                                        From Kentucky these people make a great ham:
                                                                                        http://www.newsomscountryham.com/inde...

                                                                                        From Smithfield North Carolina (not Virgina in this case) these folks make a great ham also:
                                                                                        http://www.countrycuredhams.com/

                                                                                        And great hams from Iowa:
                                                                                        http://www.laquercia.us/

                                                                                        That should be enough to start.

                                                                                        1. Will Owen RE: Fleur Aug 28, 2009 04:07 PM

                                                                                          Then let me update, too: Broadbent. Broadbent ham, Broadbent bacon, Broadbent sausage, all about as good as Kentucky can possibly produce. So far this year I've spent about $65 total (including shipping) on one variety pack (2 lb sausage, 2 lb ham center slices, 14 oz. bacon) and then a 5 lb slab of the bacon. The sausage is being hoarded for holiday use; aside from 8 slices cut off and cooked for breakfast once a week the bacon mostly goes for seasoning meat, as does the ham. I do want to try the suggestion of immersing a ham slice in water in the skillet and then cooking it slowly until it winds up frying in its own rendered fat, but it was pretty wonderful in pots of lentils and in scrambled eggs. The ham is a regular prize-winner at the KY state fair about every year, but their prices both for meat and for shipping are at or below the average of all the sites I've shopped. And I am prepared to proclaim their bacon as the best in the known universe...

                                                                                          www.broadbenthams.com/

                                                                                          1. k
                                                                                            kelvins RE: Fleur Sep 20, 2009 02:25 AM

                                                                                            You won't be able to get this in the US, but if you are in the UK or want to send Christmas gifts to someone on that side of the sea you should check out Emmett's ham, from Peasenhall in Suffolk. See http://www.emmettsham.co.uk/

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