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Johnston County/Rufus Brown Country Ham


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#1 Landlockt

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 12:26 PM

I just picked up a Johnston County Country Ham from Costco for $50 delivered to Montana!

I want to try some raw before I bake the whole thing. According to Rufus Brown the only difference in his country hams and his American prosciutto is that the country hams are sold after at least six months aging and his prosciutto are the same hams just aged for another 6-12 months.

While I realize the "only difference" is a big difference.

Has anyone tried this?

Also what are some suggestions on how to bake? I want to use some leftovers to serve on biscuits for Christmas breakfast.

Thanks

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#2 catdaddy

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 02:29 PM

Traditionally country hams are soaked in several changes of water before they are baked. Something about getting rid of a good portion of the cure so as to be satisfying to more palates. Then slathered with a glaze (like mustard, brown sugar, and lemon juice) for the final 30 mins or so of cooking.

I have never baked a whole country ham. Usually I buy slices which I fry in butter to be eaten in biscuits or with a plate of fried eggs and grits.

One suggestion would be to cut a few slices off before you bake it to satisfy your tasting of it raw (should be remarkable) and for your biscuits.

$50 is a great price for that ham.

#3 LindaK

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Posted 22 December 2010 - 07:40 PM

My limited experience with Smithfield hams is that they tend to be very salty when cooked (still delicious, with biscuits or hush puppies). When sliced super thin, it is much more like prosciutto, though the flavor is different, between the hickory smoke and I believe NC pigs feed on peanuts. Lucky you! That looks like a lot of ham, though. I wonder how well it keeps, once you've baked it or cut into it.


 


#4 Butterbean

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 12:59 PM

As mentioned, you need to soak it in water at least 24 hours to remove some of the saltiness or you will end up with a tough brick of salt. You may also want to soak it longer. Maybe even three days. Some people will do the water for a day or two then change to something like tea. Main thing is to find what suits your own personal taste. Some people even simmer the ham after this step and change the water and taste the ham to be sure it is alright. I'd be careful and experiment some before doing the whole thing till you find what you are looking for. Once its desalted to taste, I like mine baked with a pineapple glaze.

If you don't need to do the whole thing, you may just saw off a chunk of it and give this a try and hang the rest of it in your attic in the bag they provided and check on it again in about two years. It will be a completely different animal then with a much rich nutty flavor.

Here are two hams I took out of the smokehouse. These will be hung for a year or longer to mature. The plumpest one was cured in a hard cider and the other is a boned ham cured in a proscuitto fashion. There is just so much you can do with them, the sky is the limit.

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#5 qrn

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 03:24 PM

As mentioned, you need to soak it in water at least 24 hours to remove some of the saltiness or you will end up with a tough brick of salt. You may also want to soak it longer. Maybe even three days. Some people will do the water for a day or two then change to something like tea. Main thing is to find what suits your own personal taste. Some people even simmer the ham after this step and change the water and taste the ham to be sure it is alright. I'd be careful and experiment some before doing the whole thing till you find what you are looking for. Once its desalted to taste, I like mine baked with a pineapple glaze.

If you don't need to do the whole thing, you may just saw off a chunk of it and give this a try and hang the rest of it in your attic in the bag they provided and check on it again in about two years. It will be a completely different animal then with a much rich nutty flavor.

Here are two hams I took out of the smokehouse. These will be hung for a year or longer to mature. The plumpest one was cured in a hard cider and the other is a boned ham cured in a proscuitto fashion. There is just so much you can do with them, the sky is the limit.

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good timing,I just took a country ham thats been hanging in the basement darkroom for at least 5 years,I put it in a big pot of water to cover, and it been there for acouple days, looked at it todayand its still like a brick.it has a covering of fat thatis very hard and seems to be keeping the water from geting inside,I was going to cut thatoff tomorrow and then back to the pot of water,any comments on this thing would be appreciated!!
Bud

#6 Butterbean

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 06:14 PM

I hope you kept a little of it to slice thin before you put it in the water. I have a few that are brick like too but I just whittle on them with a knife. The flavor is incredible to me. It seems the longer they hang the tougher they get but the better they taste. Some people like to put them in a pot and bring to a boil and then simmer them for (I think) 20 minutes per pound. I've heard of even using a pressure cooker but never done that. I think your doing right by opening it up some and letting the water penetrate it better. Is it pure fat or does it also have that bulletproof skin on it too.

#7 qrn

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 06:46 PM

I hope you kept a little of it to slice thin before you put it in the water. I have a few that are brick like too but I just whittle on them with a knife. The flavor is incredible to me. It seems the longer they hang the tougher they get but the better they taste. Some people like to put them in a pot and bring to a boil and then simmer them for (I think) 20 minutes per pound. I've heard of even using a pressure cooker but never done that. I think your doing right by opening it up some and letting the water penetrate it better. Is it pure fat or does it also have that bulletproof skin on it too.

It was like a rock ,so I didnt even try,The outside is skin and fat and its really hard,I am planning to get out serated knife tomorrow to see If I can clean it up,I may have to resort to the bandsaw,later on inthe project ,the pot I have it in will go on the stove ok ,so that will be plan
B, so thanks for the guidance,and I will report back...
Bud














b

#8 Butterbean

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 10:20 PM

Hope it turns out to your liking. I had one that was a few years old and its skin was like kevlar. I took the saw and split it then sliced with a meat slicer. Even though the exterior seemed brick like the interior was relatively moist. Sliced thin it looked and tasted nice. Here is a pic.

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I have heard that the Bohemians would, when they had a girl child, cure some hams and serve them on the girl's wedding day. I don't know how true this is but it sure does fuel the mind with some wonderful images and makes one respect their cutlery.

#9 qrn

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 10:32 PM

Thanks,that I will keep in mind,,I have a bandsaw that I have used in the past for stuff like this so I will keep what you did in mind, the saw, would be lots easier than doing it by hand(and probably safer)will report back,,,Again THANKS!!!
Bud..

#10 qrn

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 12:56 PM

well first report back,I took it out of the waterafter4days, and it was still like a rock,so I found the serrated knifeand trimmed the skin and fat from the outside as much as I could,then I took it to the bandsaw,and cut it in half,the meat inside was stonelike as well, so off to the waterbath again,
gonna let it soak for a while ,and check it at least every day,and see what happens,,so thanks for the help,its been a learning experience,,,
will report back...
Bud

#11 Butterbean

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Posted 04 February 2012 - 06:49 PM

This is probably why so few people eat them anymore. Can be a lot of trouble. On the hard cured ones we use them more for seasoning or sliced thin rather than a main dish ham. For a main dish I'll cure them with a gentle cure which is more in line with what people today expect.

#12 patrickamory

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 01:54 PM

I just got a whole country ham from Benton's - aged 11 months. It smells incredible.

David Chang in the Momofuku Cookbook recommends simply slicing ultra-thin like prosciutto and not bothering with any soaking, boiling or other cooking.

Thoughts on this approach? It does seem like it would end up lasting months - once the raw ham has been cut, is it okay to simply return it to the fridge until the next time?

#13 Butterbean

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 08:30 PM

I think that is probably the best approach to a ham that has been aged for a long time. I love the flavor age gives. I think too, that when this was the norm, hams were usually consumed within a year and during the day people didn't build their plate around a specific meat like we do now. I think they used the ham more for seasoning or would consume it in smaller quantities. For the most part, we consume the aged hams either by thin slicing or sawing into small steaks about 1/4 thick and use this to compliment other dishes.

Patrick, after its sliced it doesn't have to go in the fridge. There is not enough available water in it to promote any nasties so its safe to store in a closet or even the attic. What you need to be careful of are skipper flies and humidity so its best to keep it wrapped in some cloth to keep the skippers off and in an area that's not damp or very humid. Hunidity will draw salt out of the ham and mold will grow which is not a big problem but it does look funny to some. If its going to be kept for a while I may even wipe down with lard and pepper. Lard will help keep it from drying too much and the pepper acts as a repellent.

#14 patrickamory

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 09:03 PM

Butterbean - thanks - I love it!

I live in a small apartment so there is no attic, and any closet is likely to have clothes, detergents, sheets or other non-ham appropriate items.

However I suspected that the ham didn't need to go into the fridge even as is - as the Benton flyer in the box instructs. I suspect the FDA or whoever requires them to include that.

Really really looking forward to trying this.

P.S. How are people slicing extremely thin? Using knife skills, or meat slicers? or one of those beautiful Spanish ham holders?

#15 Mjx

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 01:04 AM

. . . .

P.S. How are people slicing extremely thin? Using knife skills, or meat slicers? or one of those beautiful Spanish ham holders?


It's definitely possible to use a knife, if you have a good sharp blade, and are willing to practice a bit (they even have a hand-slicing competition at the annual prosciutto festival in Langhirano), but we got a slicer, because a) our initial results were not great, and we had no patience at all, and b) my boyfriend fell in love with an Azeta slicer, so that was that (if you go the slicer route, you might want to take a look at Meat Slicers: The Topic).

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#16 Butterbean

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 07:19 AM

Patrick, being that's the case what you could do is find ceiling joist and screw a hook (like a plant hanger) into it and hang it. A few years ago I gave a ham to a friend and he has it hanging in his BBQ shed. Its a nice conversation piece and when people have a few drinks they tend to pull it down and slice a little off. Last I saw, it was covered in an array of moulds which added to the mystique. I have been surprised at how many people have complimented me on that particular ham.

If its a genuinely dry cured ham I don't know why the FDA would say to refrigerate after cutting. Possibly it may be a suggestion from manufacturer to keep mold off cause many a cured ham is binned at the first sign of mold.

From a practical standpoint, its probably easier to just slice the whole ham and vacumm pac the pieces then just store them in the closet till you need them cause as pointed out cutting them can be a chore.

MJX, my knife skills are definitely limited out when its an aged cured ham. I'd hate to think of myself being in a copetition cause I love my fingers too much. I use a Hobart to do the thin slices and then its use is limited to boned portions. While its not as authentic to bone out a ham before curing I think in the long run it makes life so much easier and you can maximize the amount of quality slices in so doing but there is just something about having the bone in that intrigues me.

Edited by Butterbean, 06 February 2012 - 07:23 AM.


#17 budrichard

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 08:08 AM

Unless your Country Ham provider labels your ham fit for raw consumption, then you are risking contracting Listeria.
June Scott and I have been over this point a few times. There are many who purchase her hams and eat raw but the process is not set up to test for Listeria and she cannot sanction it. There are providers that do test for Listeria and sell their hams as fit to eat without cooking.
In any event, most Country Hams are not like Prosciutto or a Spanish Jamon. There are a few such as La Quecerio that have gotten into the raw cured ham market and produce a nice product but the cost is higher.-Dick

Edited by budrichard, 06 February 2012 - 08:09 AM.


#18 Butterbean

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 04:28 PM

You can also get listeria from eating melons and produce. The CDC also recommends cooking salums to 165F to prevent listeria and they suggest not eating smoked salmon or other seafood. To me, this is akin to the DMV telling me if I don't leave my house I won't be run over by a car. I think they are both right but .......?

#19 qrn

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 12:45 PM

Well the saga,is about over.I put the two halves back in to soak for 2 days,then put them in a big pot of water on the stove ,and simmered them for about 6 hours, then cool in a sealed bag overnight,then got out the serrated knife and set about to see what was what,well the meat that was there after getting rid of the bones,was just as hard and dry as it could be,so I tasted it ,and it was totally flavorless,guess its a lost cause,maybe some chunks in scalloped potatos is about all I could thinkof for using it...Oh well,thats what I get for leaving it hang in the basement darkroom for all those years...anyway thanks for the guideance,,,
Bud

#20 Butterbean

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 01:49 PM

The oldest one I ever baked looked delicious after cooking. I didn't do but a day soak then baked. It was like a salt block and tough as sandstone. I think the horses would have loved it. Should have just sliced it in slivers. Maybe that's the way it needs to be after a certain point. Where that point is I don't know.

#21 qrn

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 05:19 PM

The oldest one I ever baked looked delicious after cooking. I didn't do but a day soak then baked. It was like a salt block and tough as sandstone. I think the horses would have loved it. Should have just sliced it in slivers. Maybe that's the way it needs to be after a certain point. Where that point is I don't know.

Well its gotta be lots less than 5 years...It was really dumb on my part,but there was so much stuff down there,
There was a 5 gallon glass carboy of cabernet that I made in 1980 that was thin(suprise)so I put it in the vinegar making barreland another month I will have some vinegar.,and then there were the thousands of old B/W and colorprints
and negatives,and the 8by 10 view camera...(among many others...)So anyway thanks for the thoughts ,but I guess it was just to far gone..
Bud

#22 fredemerson

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 11:11 AM

 

I hope you kept a little of it to slice thin before you put it in the water. I have a few that are brick like too but I just whittle on them with a knife. The flavor is incredible to me. It seems the longer they hang the tougher they get but the better they taste. Some people like to put them in a pot and bring to a boil and then simmer them for (I think) 20 minutes per pound. I've heard of even using a pressure cooker but never done that. I think your doing right by opening it up some and letting the water penetrate it better. Is it pure fat or does it also have that bulletproof skin on it too.

It was like a rock ,so I didnt even try,The outside is skin and fat and its really hard,I am planning to get out serated knife tomorrow to see If I can clean it up,I may have to resort to the bandsaw,later on inthe project ,the pot I have it in will go on the stove ok ,so that will be plan
B, so thanks for the guidance,and I will report back...
Bud

 

It seems to me that by baking the whole ham without opening up the skin, it would keep more moisture, and therefore be more tender after the bake! I just received my FIRST Johnston County country ham, and I'm getting ready to "pull the trigger." I was going to scrub the skin clean, use an open roasting pan with that "V" shaped rack, and turn 'er loose. 17# at 15 minutes is 4 1/4 hours.

Now, y'all, I'm gonna wait for about 10-15 minutes to see if any of you kind folks are on this board, and have any PERSONAL, from YOUR OWN experience, good advice you could share. I haven't seen a ham look like this since I was back in Texas in the mid 70's. I hope it comes out just like a baked ham should. BTW, AFTER it is cooked, I was going to skin it, and then use a rub mixture of a good ol' guy named Obie makes. The three flavors I'll be mixing and rubbing is "Sweet and Heat", "Yankee Blaster", and "Gator Breath."

Wish me luck! "I'm Goin' In!"


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#23 David Hensley

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 02:26 PM

I'm looking forward to hearing about your results!


I'm a lifelong professional chef. If that doesn't explain some of my mental and emotional quirks, maybe you should see a doctor, and have some of yours examined...


#24 catdaddy

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 08:51 PM

 

 

I hope you kept a little of it to slice thin before you put it in the water. I have a few that are brick like too but I just whittle on them with a knife. The flavor is incredible to me. It seems the longer they hang the tougher they get but the better they taste. Some people like to put them in a pot and bring to a boil and then simmer them for (I think) 20 minutes per pound. I've heard of even using a pressure cooker but never done that. I think your doing right by opening it up some and letting the water penetrate it better. Is it pure fat or does it also have that bulletproof skin on it too.

It was like a rock ,so I didnt even try,The outside is skin and fat and its really hard,I am planning to get out serated knife tomorrow to see If I can clean it up,I may have to resort to the bandsaw,later on inthe project ,the pot I have it in will go on the stove ok ,so that will be plan
B, so thanks for the guidance,and I will report back...
Bud

 

It seems to me that by baking the whole ham without opening up the skin, it would keep more moisture, and therefore be more tender after the bake! I just received my FIRST Johnston County country ham, and I'm getting ready to "pull the trigger." I was going to scrub the skin clean, use an open roasting pan with that "V" shaped rack, and turn 'er loose. 17# at 15 minutes is 4 1/4 hours.

Now, y'all, I'm gonna wait for about 10-15 minutes to see if any of you kind folks are on this board, and have any PERSONAL, from YOUR OWN experience, good advice you could share. I haven't seen a ham look like this since I was back in Texas in the mid 70's. I hope it comes out just like a baked ham should. BTW, AFTER it is cooked, I was going to skin it, and then use a rub mixture of a good ol' guy named Obie makes. The three flavors I'll be mixing and rubbing is "Sweet and Heat", "Yankee Blaster", and "Gator Breath."

Wish me luck! "I'm Goin' In!"

 

Hope it turned out like you want.